Updated 2:00 p.m. Friday, May 25
Samuel Watts, a 20-year-old soldier from Wheaton died Saturday, May 19 in Bethesda, MD, of wounds sustained from an explosive Apr. 25 in the Zharay District of the Kandahar Province in Afghanistan, according to a news release from the U.S. Department of Defense.
"Sam was a really, really good guy and well loved in our community. We are so proud of what our son has done and are truly humbled by the outpouring of prayers and affection," his mother, Susan Watts said in a statement. "We would like to thank everyone for their thoughts, prayers and support."
Watts served as an Infantryman with Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment (PIR), 4th Brigade Combat Team and the 82nd Airborne Division, according to the release.
According to an email from Operation Welcome You Home, Watts graduated from Wheaton North High School in 2010. District 200 spokesman Erica Loiacono confirmed he was a Wheaton North graduate. He joined the Army July 2010 as an Infantryman and attended training in Fort Benning, GA. He joined the 1-508th PIR in November 2010. This was his first deployment to Afghanistan, according to a release from the 82nd Airborne Division.
"Sam was a guy you wanted on your team; he was a fighter," Capt. Mike Kelvington, Bravo Company Commander, with 1-508th PIR said in a statement. "From being an expert on the M240 Range with his assigned weapon to defying the odds when all the doctors said he shouldn't have lived; this long, he fought all the way to the end."
Watts will be included as one of the fallen heroes honored at the DuPage County Memorial Day Ceremony, said Terry Owens, President of the DuPage Veterans Memorial, Inc., who requested a cross in Watts' name be made in time for the 2 p.m. ceremony on Sunday, May 27. He said the cross will likely be printed and placed in position with the other crosses at the Veterans Memorial by Friday, and "certainly" in time for the Memorial Day ceremony.
His awards include the Bronze Star, the Purple Heart, the Army Commendation Medal, the Army Good Conduct Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, the Afghanistan Campaign Medal with Bronze Service Star, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the Army Service Ribbon, the Overseas Service Ribbon, the NATO Medal, the Combat Infantryman's Badge and the Parachutist Badge, according to the release.
Watts was added to the DuPage County Fallen Heroes page on the DuPage County Veterans Memorial website Tuesday morning.
Patch will update as more details are available.