Posted on Sat, Jul. 26, 2003

Captain was devout Baptist

Associated Press

Kim Byers got the last letter from her husband Wednesday, shortly after she was notified he had been killed in Iraq.

Capt. Joshua Byers, a South Carolina native, told her of chicken races his unit held to celebrate July 4.

"It was a good Fourth of July, a good time for soldiers. It was as good as it could be for them," Kim told The Gazette of Colorado Springs on Friday.

"It was very uplifting because he has so much faith in God. He mentioned God's plan is always perfect. He said, 'There is a reason we are going through what we are going through now. We will know that plan later.'"

Byers, a 1996 West Point graduate who commanded Fox Troop, 2nd Squadron, 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, died when his convoy was attacked on a highway outside Ramadi.

Byers was the son of Baptist missionaries Lloyd and Mary Byers and himself was a Southern Baptist lay leader. His parents are director of missions for the Guam Baptist Association. Lloyd Byers earlier served as a pastor in Sparks, Nev., Mountville, S.C., and Mt. Airy, Ga.

Joshua Byers also was the older brother of Milam and Jared Byers, lead guitarist and drummer, respectively, for the popular Christian rock band Bleach.

Mary Byers said she and her husband were flying from Tokyo to Atlanta July 23, and got the news from their sons when they arrived in Atlanta, the Baptist Press reported on its Web site.

"We're just really in shock, but we certainly appreciate the prayer support we've already heard about through the North American Mission Board and all Southern Baptists we've been in contact with," she said.

"His whole life, this was all he wanted to do," Milam said of his brother's military career. "He worked hard to get into West Point, and when he was at West Point he worked hard to be the best there. ... He always did everything 110 percent, and that's how his walk with God was too."

During the war with Iraq, Milam said his brother understood the risks but was ready to do whatever was necessary to achieve victory.

"We kept hoping that the war would be over soon. I know that just recently he had written and said that he was worried that people over there had forgotten about them -- because the media had been hailing that the war was over and we had won. ... But actually the last couple of months he said we had taken more hits than in the first couple of weeks in the war when it was covered so well."

A memorial service for Joshua Byers is scheduled for 1 p.m. July 30 in Fort Carson, Milam said. The funeral and burial tentatively are planned for Saturday, Aug. 2, at Lisbon Presbyterian Church in Mountville.

2003 AP Wire and wire service sources. All Rights Reserved.