WASHBURN, IL, USA U.S. Army SPC, COMPANY A, 2D BATTALION, 327TH INFANTRY, FORT CAMPBELL, KY SAMARRA, IRAQ 01/08/2008
The Washburn family of a U.S. Army soldier killed in combat Tuesday in Iraq – a former Roanoke-Benson High School student – is waiting for more information about his death and the return of his body.
Private First Class Phillip Pannier, 20, an infantryman with the 101st Airborne Division, was killed at 10 a.m. Tuesday in Samarra, Iraq, along with two other members of his infantry unit, said his father, Donald Pannier and the Department of Defense.
“We know nothing except that he was killed by enemy fire,” said his mother, Robyn.
She said two of her son’s friends also were killed and two others were injured, one critically.
The death is the second involving a son of the Panniers in the past year. Their son, Dale, who was older than Phillip, died in a traffic accident. He, too, was in the military, but was a civilian at the time of his death.
Three of Phillip’s good friends, Dan Ransom, Cliff Oltman and Jake Washer, visited the family Thursday. Oltman spoke for all three in saying how they feel.
“He was a great friend and an even better person,” Oltman said. “He would do anything for you. The good times we had together will never be forgotten; he’ll always be in our hearts. We’ll always love him and think about him.”
Pannier volunteered for the Army shortly after graduating from Roanoke-Benson, where he played football and soccer, in 2006. Although the family’s address is rural Washburn, they lived north of Roanoke. Flags flew at half-staff Thursday outside the high school in Pannier’s honor.
“He always wanted to be where the action was,” his father said. “This upset his mother and me, but that’s what he wanted to do.”
After high school, Phillip Pannier decided he didn’t want to go to college, but he was thinking about eventually becoming a police officer, Robyn Pannier said.
“That’s one of the reasons he picked the Army,” said Robyn Pannier, adding he had a sense of determination and direction that was reflected in a MySpace.com biography he posted while still stateside.
He said he preferred being with someone “who knows what they want in life and gets it.”
He left for basic training in July 2006 and later was stationed at Fort Campbell, Ky., before being sent to Iraq in September 2007 for a 15-month deployment. In high school, Phillip Pannier played soccer for two years and football on the Eureka and Roanoke-Benson co-op team for two years. He also was in band for eight years.
“He was a very good football player,” said Principal Mark Zotz. “The very first football game he ever participated in he led the team in tackles, with three. So he did well right from the beginning.”
He also was interested in auto mechanics and participated in 4-H and FFA, raising sheep on the family farm for projects in both organizations.