The Defense Department says a Marine from Maple Lake, Minnesota, was killed Wednesday during combat in Iraq. The military says Marine Sgt. Chad Allen, 25, was killed in Al Anbar province.
Allen was assigned to the 2nd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, 2nd Marine Division, 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force based in Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.
He is the second Minnesotan killed in Iraq this week. Army Sgt. William Beardsley, 25, of Coon Rapids died Monday in Diwaniyah, Iraq.
“He was 25, and I think he thought these 18, 19-year-olds were pretty young and he wanted to protect them. That was his nature.”Jim Beardsley, father
To his family, William Beardsley was B.J. His dad, Jim, says he and B.J. talked at length just last week.
"He told me Friday, if something happens to me I want you to make sure that my kids know who I am," Jim Beardsley said. "And I told him I would."
B.J. has a son, Chance, who is 4, and a 3-year-old daughter, Alexis. They live with their mother in Indiana.
Military officials released few details of Beardsley's death, other than to say that on Monday an improvised explosive device, or IED, detonated near his vehicle in central Iraq. IEDs have proven to be one of the most deadly weapons against U.S. troops.
Beardsley's family is thankful to have that last telephone conversation to hang on to.
Jim Beardsley says during the call, his son said he was worried about some of the young soldiers providing convoy security with him. That's probably why Jim says B.J. positioned himself at the head of convoys.
"He had guys that worked for him, and it was a little scary that way," Beardsley said. "He was 25, and I think he thought these 18, 19-year-olds were pretty young and he wanted to protect them. That was his nature."
B.J.'s stepmom, Dianna, says her son believed strongly in what he was doing in Iraq.
"He was very optimistic. He would always say they just aren't saying it in the media like it is over here. He talked about the kids and progress, and the good they were doing for everybody around there. He was extremely upbeat about it. There was a lot good going on."
Beardsley had been out of the military for a few years before he re-enlisted, knowing that he'd be deployed to Iraq. Beardsley served with the Army's 3rd Infantry Division based in Fort Stewart, Georgia.
Dianna Beardsley says B.J. loved his family. She also says he was always on the go.
"We all drive motorcycles so we did that a lot together when he was up here," Dianna Beardsley said. "Then (he was) stationed in Fort Stewart, Georgia, and he did a lot of motorcycling for sure. He loved baseball, softball -- he was quite the athlete -- golfing, (he) could do just about anything."
The deaths of Beardsley and Allen bring to 35 the number of active duty members of the military with strong ties to Minnesota killed in Iraq. Ten National Guard soldiers from Minnesota have been killed there.
Beardsley's family says his funeral will be held in Indiana. There will be a memorial service in Minnesota. The arrangements are pending.