Staff Sgt. Lori Wilson, the 29th Combat Aviation Brigade’s legal noncommissioned officer in charge, has been singing to a church crowd since the age of six.
“I would sit on the piano bench with my grandmother as she was playing at church, and I would sing along with her,” said Wilson. “Everyone was really shocked that such a big voice could come out of such a little person.”
Wilson stated that she is very shy and only recently started singing at her current church, First Christian Church, in Havre de Grace, Md.
“The more I [sing] the more I want to do it,” she added.
During post-mobilization training at North Fort Hood, Texas, she approached Chaplain (Maj.) William Butler, brigade chaplain, and some of the battalion chaplains about singing during worship services.
“They didn’t have anyone approach them to help lead the worship, so I asked if I could help,” said Wilson. “I brought some music from my church, and the chaplains had some of their music sometimes I sang a cappella.”
Wilson was asked by Chaplain (Capt.) John Scott to sing at a memorial service for a fallen comrade, Spc. David E. Hickman, 23, of Greensboro, N.C., who was killed Nov. 14, in Baghdad. He succumbed to injuries sustained after an improvised explosive device exploded near his vehicle.
He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division from Fort Bragg, N.C. Hickman was the last casualty in Operation New Dawn.
During the Nov. 16 memorial service, Wilson sang a solo, “Jesus Draw Me Ever Nearer” and a duo “Amazing Grace” in the Taji Ministry Center packed with mourning Soldiers.
“I felt very honored,” said Wilson. “…and then to know that he was the last soldier killed in Iraq. It was a very touching and very somber moment.”
The battalion commander presented Wilson a command coin after the service.
“[Receiving the coin] is going to mean more to me than any awards on this deployment just because of the meaning behind it,” added Wilson.