Sgt. William Friese, 30, from Rockport, West Virginia, died July 18 in Camp Buehring, Kuwait, due to what military authorities say is a non-combat related incident.
The incident is under investigation.
A West Virginia Army National Guard soldier assigned to the 821st Engineer Company, 1092nd Engineer Battalion, 111th Engineer Brigade, in Summersville, West Virginia, Friese died while serving in support of Operation Inherent Resolve.
Friese was a light-wheeled vehicle mechanic with the 821st Engineer Company, according to Maj. Holli Nelson, a spokeswoman for the West Virginia National Guard.
He joined the West Virginia Army National Guard in 2008 and served in the 821st Engineer Company or above at the 1092nd Engineer Battalion for his entire 12-year career, according to the Guard.
He was on his second deployment serving in support of Operation Inherent Resolve at Camp Buehring, Kuwait. He also had deployed to Afghanistan in 2010 for a tour with the 1092nd Engineer Battalion.
He was a resident of Parkersburg, West Virginia and a native West Virginian. He is survived by his wife, children, mother, sister and grandparents.
“Cathy and I are praying for William’s family and the entire National Guard family, and we ask all West Virginians to join with us,” said West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice in a prepared statement sent to Army Times.
“Everything we have we owe to the men and women who defend our country and protect our freedoms. We will do everything we can to provide support to his family and will never forget his service and sacrifice to this great state and our great nation.”
Friese’s decorations include the Afghanistan Campaign Medal, NATO Afghanistan Service Medal, Army Achievement Medal, Army Good Conduct Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, West Virginia Emergency Service Ribbon, West Virginia State Service Ribbon, and numerous other awards.
“The loss of William will be felt throughout our entire organization and on behalf of the men and women of the West Virginia National Guard, I extend my heartfelt condolences to William’s family, friends and those who served with him,” said Adjutant General of the West Virginia National Guard Maj. Gen. James Hoyer.
“Our missions are inherently dangerous and not without risk, yet every day, our military members are prepared to defend our Nation in the most dangerous places in the world. William represents the values and service to State and Nation that are the foundations of service in the National Guard. May we never forget Sgt. William Friese, his family or the legacy he leaves behind.”
Both of West Virginia’s senators extended their condolences, too.
“West Virginia has a long and proud history of service and sacrifice for our country, and Sgt. Friese was the perfect example of that brave and selfless service. His commitment to our security and defending the freedoms we enjoy will not be forgotten, and my heart goes out to all of his loved ones during this difficult time,” said U.S. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito.
“Gayle and I are saddened to hear about the passing of West Virginia National Guardsman Sgt. William Friese. We send our thoughts, prayers and support to his family, friends and fellow Guardsmen and women during this difficult time,” added U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin III.
Howard Altman is an award-winning editor and reporter who was previously the military reporter for the Tampa Bay Times and before that the Tampa Tribune, where he covered USCENTCOM, USSOCOM and SOF writ large among many other topics.