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Published: 3/9/2005

Security worker perishes in Iraq

BY ERICA BLAKE
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Wagoner Wagoner
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A Maumee High School graduate working as a civilian security specialist protecting contractors rebuilding war-torn Iraq was killed just days before he was to return to his wife and three young children in North Carolina.

Brian Wagoner, 30, a 1994 graduate of Maumee High School, was killed Thursday by a roadside bomb. Mr. Wagoner was scheduled to return home for a visit this Friday.

His father, Jim Wagoner of Whitehouse, said he wasn't surprised his son chose to spend a year in Iraq as a security specialist. After all, Brian Wagoner had the military and police background for the job and he was the kind of man who wanted to help.

Yesterday, his father remembered his eldest son as someone who loved people, loved animals, and in general, loved life.

"I'm so proud of him," the elder Mr. Wagoner said. "There were a lot of things that he wanted to do in his life and he was dedicated to achieving those goals."

Brian Wagoner joined the military and spent four years in the Army's 82nd Airborne as a member of the Air Defense Artillery unit. After leaving the Army, Mr. Wagoner went through schooling to become a police officer and worked his way from patrolman to police chief of Pine Bluff, N.C.

While serving as police chief and K-9 officer in Pine Bluff, Mr. Wagoner was recruited by SOC-SMG, Inc., a defense contractor based in Minden, Nev., that provides security for companies overseas. The elder Mr. Wagoner said it was his son's desire to use the better salary from the security job to provide a better life for his family.

While in Iraq, Mr. Wagoner was promoted and contemplated serving past his one-year commitment, his stepmother, Louise Wagoner, added.

According to SOC-SMG, Mr. Wagoner was providing security to employees of Tetra Tech FW Inc., which is under contract with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to destroy enemy weaponry in Iraq. The attack occurred about 7:20 a.m. Iraq time on Thursday near the city of Al Ashraf, spokesman Anthony Casas said.

Mr. Wagoner and Jimmy Riddle of Texas were in the lead vehicle in a convoy when the device exploded, killing both men. There were no other injuries and the military is still investigating, Mr. Casas said.

Mr. Wagoner's father said the family is slowly starting to contemplate life without Brian.

His brothers, Jason and Christopher, both of Oregon, his grandparents, who live in Sylvania and Perrysburg, and his mother, Barbara Chapman of Oregon, recognize him as the hero that he was, the father said.

Brian was the kind of man who could relate to everybody and who made an impact on those he met, his father said. But he said the most important thing to Brian was his family, especially his wife, Melissa, and children, Bryce, 7; Brandon, 5; and Allyson, 3.

"He was always on the go, even when he was young. He loved to fish, he loved to swim, he really liked to be on the go," Mr. Wagoner said. "But even though he was always busy, he always had time for his kids."

Contact Erica Blake at:

eblake@theblade.com

or 419-724-6076.



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