Spec. William McMillan III was destined for the military, like his father, and loved working in the medical field, like his mother.
McMillan died in Iraq Tuesday, said his family, who lives in Lexington.
An Army medic based at Abu Ghraib, Iraq, he was traveling with his outfit when his vehicle hit a homemade bomb, injuring five and fatally wounding McMillan.
McMillan, 22, was seven months into his first tour in Iraq, his family said. He had received the Bronze Star, his mother said, the fourth-highest combat award in the service, which is unusual for his position. His mother said McMillan seemed almost genetically inclined for his position in the Army. “It's almost like this is what he was born to do, you know? It was definitely in his blood.” McMillan's father, Gen. William McMillan Jr., studied at the Kentucky Military Institute and the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., before serving in Vietnam, and his mother is a nurse at St. Joseph's Hospital in Lexington.
“He was always the star athlete,” Marge McMillan said.
McMillan attended high school at Hargrave Military Academy in Virginia, where as a senior he was captain of the wrestling, lacrosse and football teams, winning the school's Athlete of the Year Award. He loved the water and in his free time enjoyed wakeboarding and boating on Lake Cumberland with his family, Marge McMillan said.
He attended Virginia Military Institute in Lexington, Va., for a year before deciding to go straight into the Army.
After being stationed for a year in Hawaii, McMillan was deployed to Iraq as a combat medic. His family says he never complained about being sent to combat and believed strongly in the cause he was fighting for. He hoped to become either a nurse or physician's assistant when his tour ended later this year.
“He brought laughter and light into any room he entered from the day he was born,” said his mother.
McMillan kept in close contact with his family during his time in Iraq, and his mother said they talked to him on the phone at least two times a week.
“There always seemed to be a crowd of people around him,” she said. “He told us people would just come to see him in the barracks, because he was such a hilarious guy.”
McMillan was not just a wonderful and loving husband, brother and son, his wife, Elizabeth said, but a hero and friend to everyone who knew him.
“I want everyone to know that he always wanted to help people, and that he was and still is a hero,” she said.
McMillan is survived by his wife, Elizabeth, a student at the University of Kentucky; his parents, Gen. William McMillan Jr. and Marge McMillan; his sister Lauren; and his brother Brad.
McMillan's family said he will be buried at Camp Nelson, however, no date or details have been set.
Published in Lexington Herald-Leader from July 10 to Sept. 30, 2008