CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) — A West Virginia Army National Guard Soldier, Sgt. William Friese, of Parkersburg, has died after a non-combat related incident on Thursday, according to the West Virginia National Guard.
Friese is a West Virginia native and is survived by his wife, children, mother, sister and grandparents.
"Everything we have we owe to the men and women who defend our country and protect our freedoms," said Governor Jim Justice. "We will do everything we can to provide support to his family and will never forget his service and sacrifice to this great State and our great Nation."
Sgt. Friese was assigned to the 821st Engineer Company, 1092nd Engineer Battalion, 111th Engineer Brigade, in Summersville, West Virginia, and was serving in support of Operation Inherent Resolve.
"Cathy and I are praying for William's family and the entire National Guard family, and we ask all West Virginians to join with us," said Governor Jim Justice.
Friese was a light-wheeled vehicle mechanic and joined the West Virginia Army National Guard in 2008. He served with the 821st Engineer Company for his entire 12-year career.
"The loss of William will be felt throughout our entire organization and on behalf of the men and women of the West Virginia National Guard, I extend my heartfelt condolences to William's family, friends and those who served with him," said Maj. Gen. James Hoyer, the Adjutant General of the West Virginia National Guard. "Our missions are inherently dangerous and not without risk, yet every day, our military members are prepared to defend our Nation in the most dangerous places in the world. William represents the values and service to State and Nation that are the foundations of service in the National Guard. May we never forget Sgt. William Friese, his family or the legacy he leaves behind."
Friese was on his second deployment serving in support of Operation Inherent Resolve at Camp Buehring, Kuwait. He had previously deployed to Afghanistan in 2010 for a yearlong tour with the 1092nd Engineer Battalion.
He earned the Afghanistan Campaign Medal, NATO Afghanistan Service Medal, Army Achievement Medal, Army Good Conduct Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, West Virginia Emergency Service Ribbon, West Virginia State Service Ribbon, and numerous other awards and decorations during his service.
"West Virginia has a long and proud history of service and sacrifice for our country, and Sgt. Friese was the perfect example of that brave and selfless service. His commitment to our security and defending the freedoms we enjoy will not be forgotten, and my heart goes out to all of his loved ones during this difficult time," said Senator Shelley Moore Capito.
"Gayle and I are saddened to hear about the passing of West Virginia National Guardsman Sgt. William Friese. We send our thoughts, prayers and support to his family, friends and fellow Guardsmen and women during this difficult time," stated Senator Joe Manchin III.
An investigation to determine the cause of the incident is ongoing.