BY CLYDE HUGHES | AC JosepH Media
WASHINGTON. D.C. — Willingboro native Sgt. William Jerome Rivers was among the three U.S. Army soldiers identified on Monday (Jan. 29) as killed in a drone attack on a U.S. military base in Jordan near the Syrian border on Sunday (Jan. 28).
The deaths come as part of the ongoing Israel-Hamas war in Gaza, which has slowly grown into a regional conflict with supporters of Hamas attacking Israeli allies in the Middle East, including the United States. An investigation is ongoing but an Iran-backed militia is believed to have been involved.
According to the Defense Department, Rivers, 46, was one of three U.S. Army reservists killed in the drone attack that struck their container housing unit overnight. Rivers was attached to the 718th Engineer Company, 926th Engineer Battalion, 926th Brigade, out of Fort Moore, Ga.
He died with fellow reservist Kennedy Ladon Sanders, 24, of Waycross, Ga.; and Spc. Breonna Alexsondria Moffett, 23, of Savannah, Ga.
“These three fallen heroes were deployed to Jordan in support of Operation Inherent Resolve and the international coalition working to ensure the lasting defeat of ISIS,” said Deputy Pentagon Press Secretary Sabrina Singh in a news briefing on Monday. “These brave Americans and their families are in our prayers, and the entire Department of Defense mourns their loss.
“We also pray for the speedy recovery of those who were injured. Eight personnel who received injuries required medical evacuation from Jordan to the Baghdad Diplomatic Support Center.”
The U.S. Army Reserve said that Rivers, who was living in Carrollton, Ga., enlisted in the Army Reserve in 2011 as an interior electrician (12R). He was first assigned to the 990th Engineer Company at Fort McGuire-Dix, N.J. after completing advanced individual training.
In 2018, Rivers completed a nine-month rotation to Iraq in support of Operation Inherent Resolve. In 2023, Rivers was assigned to the 718th Engineer Company, 926th Engineer Battalion, and 926th Engineer Brigade, at Fort Moore.
“I am deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Sgt. William Rivers of Willingboro,” said New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy in a statement. “As parents, Tammy and I send out our heartfelt sympathies to all three families who now face the unimaginable pain of losing a cherished loved one.
“As Americans, we share our gratitude for the soldiers’ bravery and sacrifice and for the courage of every servicemember fighting terrorism at home and abroad, to whom we owe a debt we can never repay.”
Murphy said he will order the state flag to fly at half-staff in honor of Rivers.
Rivers’ awards and decorations include the Army Achievement Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon, two Army Reserve Component Overseas Training Ribbons, Armed Forces Reserve Medal with “M” Device, and the Inherent Resolve Campaign Medal with Campaign Star.
“Sergeant Rivers served with courage, honor, and a deep sense of duty, embodying the best of New Jersey and our nation,” U.S. Sen. Cory Booker said in a press statement released by NJ Insider. “His death is a profound loss to his family, friends, colleagues, and our entire country, and a reminder of the heavy debt we owe to our military families for their sacrifice.
“A grateful nation can never repay Sergeant William J. Rivers, Specialist Kennedy L. Sanders, and Specialist Breonna A. Moffett, and their families, but we can honor their lives by upholding the values they fought for. I extend my deepest condolences to their loved ones in this time of grief.”
U.S. Rep. Andy Kim, whose district covers Willingboro, shared his condolences as well.
“[Rivers] served his country and our local community with great honor and bravery and we are indebted to him and his loved ones for their service and sacrifice,” Kim said in his statement. “We will never forget what Sergeant Rivers and his fellow fallen soldiers … gave for our nation. May their memory live on in our continued service to our military families.”
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