Two days after learning of the death of their oldest daughter in Iraq, the family of fallen Fort Benning soldier Spc. Lakeshia M. Bailey spoke about her passion for life and her love of the Army.
“She was just a fun person to be around,” said her father, Tony Bailey. “She was always outgoing and she was always looking for, I guess I would say an adventure. Something to keep her going all the time. That’s how we’ll remember her.”
Bailey, 23, of Columbus, and Sgt. Aaron M. Arthur, 25, of Lake City, S.C., died March 8 north of Al Kut, Iraq, of injuries sustained during a non-combat related vehicle roll-over, according to a release by the Department of Defense.
A memorial for the soldiers was held March 12 in Iraq. The rollover is under investigation, said 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division public affairs spokesman Capt. Charles Barrett.
Both soldiers were heavy vehicle drivers assigned to the 203rd Brigade Support Battalion, attached to the 1st Battalion, 10th Field Artillery Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division.
Bailey entered the Army in February 2006 and arrived for duty at Fort Benning in June 2006.
A 2004 graduate of Spencer High School, she excelled in math and enjoyed cosmetology and home economics.
“She was real goofy,” said her younger sister, 19-year-old Candace Bailey. “She always smiled. That’s like the only thing everyone knew about her. She had very pretty teeth. She loved dancing. She wouldn’t want us around crying. I mean, yeah she’s gone, but she’d want us to be smiling and having fun. That’s just how she was. She wasn’t the type to sit around and mope about something. She was just the life of the party. That’s just how she was.”
Following high school, Bailey enrolled at Columbus State University where she studied for one year before leaving to join the Army.
“She always wanted to go into the military because my husband was in the military,” said her mother, Phyllis Bailey. “He was in for 24 years and retired so she wanted to follow dad. She was a military brat.”
Once Bailey made up her mind to join the service she committed herself wholeheartedly to her new profession, hoping to one day earn the rank of sergeant. She was selected last summer as the Soldier of the Month for her unit and a few months later received soldier of the quarter.
Bailey deployed to Iraq for the first time in 2007. During her 12 months overseas she garnered a lot of experience and confidence. In 2009, prior to deploying again to Iraq in October, she was married. Going into this tour, Bailey told her family she felt more prepared for war.
Tony and Phyllis Bailey live in Fort Mitchell, Ala. Phyllis is a civilian employee on Fort Benning. Candace Bailey attends Chattahoochee Valley Community College and has a 9-year-old sister.
Bailey’s awards include an Army Commendation Medal, an Army Achievement Medal, an Army Good Conduct Medal, a National Defense Service Medal, two Iraq Campaign Medals, a Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, a Noncommissioned Officer Professional Development Ribbon, an Army Service Ribbon and an Overseas Service Ribbon.
Arthur entered the Army in November 2003 and arrived for duty at Fort Benning in March 2004. His awards include the Army Commendation Medal, two Army Good Conduct Medals, a National Defense Service Medal, an Iraq Campaign Medal, a Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, a Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, an Army Service Ribbon, an Overseas Service Ribbon and a Combat Action Badge.