East Texas soldier killed in Iraq

PALESTINE, TX The Department of Defense said Tuesday that Pfc. Heath K. Pickard died Thursday in Balad of wounds suffered from indirect fire in Baquaba, Iraq.

"He was proud of where he was, his occupation with the military," Frankston High School counselor Cindy Owens said in a story in Tuesday's online edition of The Palestine Herald. "It was like he had finally gotten what he had worked for. He wanted a family, honor and respect and he had gotten that."

Pickard graduated from Frankston High School in 2006. He played football and was a member of the marching band.

Jacob Whitehurst, who had known Pickard since age 5, said Pickard was someone who could be counted on. "He was always there," Whitehurst said. "If you needed something, he would try. He really cared."

Richard Hamilton, Frankston Middle School principal, said Pickard seemed to have his priorities in order on a recent visit home.

"It took him getting into the service to grow up, but after he grew up, the time he spent being a man was more than most people get in a lifetime because, to figure out why we're here, he did it in a short period of time. I think that's what I'll always remember about Heath -- he knew why he was here, he knew what was important in life and there's a lot of folks who don't figure that out their entire lives."

Pickard was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 5th Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division at Fort Wainwright, Alaska. He was married and had a 4-month-old son.

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