Day after son is born, father dies in Baghdad - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Day after son is born, father dies in Baghdad

HENDERSONVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Joshua Jackson Reeves, four days old, slept undisturbed in his mother's arms, blissfully unaware of war, or a city called Baghdad, or his mother's shattered heart.

Leslie Reeves, gently traced her baby's chin, a miniature version of another's chin, and smiled through wet eyes.

On Friday, Sept. 21, Reeves delivered her 7-pound, 14-ounce boy into this world without complications.

Soon afterward she phoned Iraq to deliver the happy news. There, Spc. Joshua H. Reeves, her soldier-husband of two years, was stationed with troops from Fort Riley, Kan.

He was due to come home in November for two weeks of vacation from war. One day's joy turned to sorrow on Saturday, Sept. 22, as a bomb detonated as Joshua Reeves' Humvee drove down a Baghdad street.

Leslie Reeves, a Hendersonville native who had returned to be with her parents while she delivered, was still in the hospital with her new baby when she learned she was a widow.

Meanwhile, in Watkinsville, Ga., about 60 miles east of Atlanta, James and Jean Reeves also learned Saturday they had lost the oldest of their five children.

"It hurts so terribly. You just can't know how bad it hurts," said James Reeves, an eighth-grade teacher.

Three years ago when their son told them he was going to join the Army, the Reeves were not surprised.

"He wanted to fly helicopters, that was his dream," said James Reeves. "He went to an aviation school after high school but he decided that joining the Army would get him to that point quicker."

He would likely have gotten there, too. "He was always determined, in everything," his father added. "He was such a good-hearted person. Everybody loved him," Jean Reeves said.

Jean Reeves talked to her son last week by phone. Sometimes, she said, he confided to her that he sometimes had trouble sleeping and worried about roadside bombs, the ubiquitous weapons of this war.

"But even so, he was real committed. He had just re-enlisted for six years. He supported his country. He supported the Army. He supported his President.

He cared about the Iraqi people," she said. The couple was in Hendersonville on Monday, two days after their son died.

James Reeves nodded to the screen of a laptop computer. "Let me show you this," he said. His fingers clicked the keys, opening files until he found the photo he searched for.

Another click magnified the image. Joshua sat cross-legged on the floor of an Iraqi house, a guest for a Ramadan meal.

He looked at the camera with a quizzical smile as he held something to eat in his fingers. The specialist appeared to be at ease, among trusted companions.

"Isn't that just absolutely the greatest shot?" James said, chin on his neck, tears flowing unchecked, shoulders bobbing from the sobs. "We got this last Wednesday."

Now the photo becomes his son's parting image.

In the next room, Leslie Reeves held her sleeping son close. "He got to hear him cry over the phone and said 'Hi' to him," the new mother recalled.

A short time after the birth, the specialist, 26, also received photos of his son via the Internet. His boy. "I just wanted him to have seen his son," the mother said.

"That was comforting to me."

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

Powered by Frankly