Hickam Air Force Base Airman Dies While Disarming Bomb - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Hickam Air Force Base Airman Dies While Disarming Bomb

Jay Stevens Jay Stevens
Connie Stevens Connie Stevens

By: Beth Hillyer

A Senior Airman and explosives expert assigned to Hickam Air Force Base died

Thursday in Iraq when a device he was trying to defuse exploded.

With just four weeks left in Iraq newlywed Senior Airman William Newman was looking forward to his homecoming here in Hawaii.

Now his family is making funeral arrangements.

His Utah foster family is dealing with the loss of their son who died two days ago in Iraq, just four weeks before he was scheduled to come home.

Newman worked with an explosive ordinance disposal team in Iraq.

He disarmed improvised explosive devices so they wouldn't kill others, a job that ultimately took his life.

Newman moved in with foster parents Jay and Connie Stephens when he was ten.

They describe him as a very resilient young man.

Jay Stephens says, "I reflect back on every difficulty that he's faced through his life, and he did it with such incredible dignity, and such personal confidence."

Their son, Keldon was very close to Newman.

He lives in Florida now, but sent his father his thoughts in a text message.: "He's a hero and will be missed and never forgotten."

He graduated from Lone Peak High School in 2001.

His dad says he was a yell leader there, and enjoyed break dancing, "In high school he got really excited and involved in break dancing and he was pretty incredible with some of the maneuvers he could do in break dancing and that led to the cheer squad."

Most recently, Newman was stationed at Hickam Air Force Base.

He lived there with his wife, So Young. They had been married for just more than a year.

While the family deals with the loss, they are focusing on the type of man he was.

Newman's commander says he was a hero and that the bomb he was trying to render safe was in an area near Iraqi women and children.

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