The son of a Camak, Ga., family is the lone survivor of a roadside bomb in southern Baghdad that killed four other U.S. soldiers Easter Sunday and pushed the war's death toll over the 4,000 mark.
Army Sgt. Steve McCoy of Moutrie, Ga., the son of Sam McCoy and Pam Moore of Camak, remained in critical condition Wednesday, according to his family. His grandmother, Ann McCoy, also lives in Warren County. Sgt. McCoy's uncle, Steve Giddens, of Warrenton, said his nephew suffered burns over 90 percent of his body, is hospitalized in Frankfurt, Germany and awaiting transfer to the burn center at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas.
Georgia Pressley, co-manager of the Wal-Mart Super Center in Thomson, said Wednesday that the injured soldier's mother works as an associate in the garden center. Ms. Pressley said Wal-Mart will be opening up a bank account in Sgt. McCoy's name to raise money for the family. She also said a blood drive also is planned at the Thomson Wal-Mart on April 12 in honor of Sgt. McCoy.
Sgt. McCoy's wife, Tabitha, and their 3-year-old twins, Landen and Ryley, were visiting her parents, also of Moultrie, when the call came in from the Department of the Army Monday at about 7:30 a.m.
"She was here for Easter, and she was just fixing to leave here when she got the call," her brother, Gadston Moore, told The Moultrie Observer Tuesday.
"... We don't know all the details. All we know is he was in a vehicle headed through Baghdad, but they won't tell us nothing."
Monday evening, Giddens said that family members are preparing to fly to San Antonio in the next day or so to be with Sgt. McCoy.
"He's doing better today than yesterday," Mr. Moore said, relaying what military doctors told the family.
Sgt. McCoy's older brother, Eric, also is serving in Iraq. There's no indication Eric McCoy knows of his brother's injuries. He set out on a two-week mission Saturday morning, no contact allowed, Mr. Moore said.
Sgt. McCoy and his brother are carrying on a military tradition. His late grandfather Roland McCoy served the U.S. in World War II.
"We've been together since the 10th grade, and I've known from Day One that he would join," said Tabitha McCoy, adding that the Sept. 11 attacks only cemented his resolve to serve. "This was something he was born to do, and he was going to do it."
This was Sgt. McCoy's second tour in Iraq. He joined the U.S. Army in 2004 and was stationed most recently at Ft. Stewart, near Savannah. He deployed for Iraq for the first time in January 2005 during Operation Iraqi Freedom III. He re-upped in October of that year, came home on Christmas Eve and was deployed again with the Alpha Company, 4th Battalion, 64th Armor Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division in October 2007, his wife said.
Sgt. McCoy selected to be a staff noncommissioned officer and was scheduled for promotion to E-6 in April.
"He was going to reenlist again," Mrs. McCoy said with some difficulty. "He made sure that it was a family decision, that he involved me. That's what he was born to do. Some people were born to do certain things, and this was for him. He's a great leader."
Sgt. McCoy graduated from Colquitt County High School in 2003. All through high school, Sgt. McCoy was an avid participant in the Junior ROTC program.
"He's one of the best kids I ever had," said Lt. Col. Paul Nagy, the director of the CCHS program. "He's got a real good sense of humor. We enjoyed having him in ROTC. He worked very, very hard for us. He did virtually everything. He was just very dedicated and worked very hard - a pretty smart kid."
The Associated Press count of 4,000 deaths is based on U.S. military reports and includes eight civilians who worked for the Department of Defense.
WTHO News Director Donna Branch contributed to this article.