Local couple morns death of soldier son

A Kingman soldier who recently received the Purple Heart for wounds suffered in Iraq has died.

Army Staff Sgt.

William T.

Latham, 29, died at 7:05 p.m.

Wednesday at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C.

Sid and Brenda Latham of Kingman, his parents, were with him.

"Will was doing better," Sid Latham said.

"Much of the swelling went down.

"But doctors found a (brain) aneurysm and before they could do surgery to take care of it it ruptured and he had a stroke."

Latham, a 1992 graduate of Kingman High School, was struck on the left side of the head by grenade shrapnel while serving as lead scout for Eagle Troop, 2nd Squadron of the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment out of Fort Carson near Colorado Springs, Colo.

He was wounded during a reconnaissance mission May 19 in what is thought to have been a friendly fire incident that remains under investigation.

He was taken to an Army hospital at Landstuhl, Germany, before being transferred to Walter Reed Army Medical Center on May 27.

Doctors had removed a small piece of shrapnel from Latham's head but decided the risk would be too great in trying to remove a larger piece.

He was in a drug-induced coma for a time but appeared to be recovering when complications arose, his parents said.

Latham's two sisters, Susan Wood and Shannon Shelton, also were at the hospital when he died, Brenda Latham said.

Melissa Latham, his wife, flew to Colorado Springs from Washington the night before her husband died in order to prepare the couple's three children for the tragic news once doctors advised the family he would not survive, Brenda Latham said.

The Latham children are Patricia, 10, Travis, 9, and Jeremy, 6.

Sid and Brenda Latham spent four days visiting "Will," as he was known.

While not fully coherent he did recognize his parents upon their arrival at the hospital, Sid Latham said.

Actor Arnold Schwarzenegger presented Latham with the Purple Heart in his hospital room June 6.

Latham's wife and sisters were there for the presentation.

Wood told Brenda Latham that Schwarzenegger's comment to her brother was "I play a hero in the movies, but you're a hero in real life."

Sid Latham said his son would be given a full military funeral followed by burial at Fort Carson.

But arrangements are not complete, so the date and time has not been firmed up.

"We thought Will was going to make it," Sid Latham said.

"But the good Lord said 'No I want him upstairs.' "

The family is hurting but bearing up, he said.