Army Spc. Steven J. Bishop
Died March 13, 2010 serving during Operation Iraqi Freedom
29, of Christiansburg, Va.; assigned to the 422nd Civil Affairs Battalion, 352nd Civil Affairs Command, U.S. Army Civil Affairs and Psychological Operations Command, Fort Bragg, N.C.; died March 13 in Tikrit, Iraq, from a noncombat-related illness.
(The following was taken from www.roanoke.com of Mar. 18, 2010) A 29-year-old soldier from Christiansburg who worked to reconstruct bomb-shattered towns in northwestern Iraq died of a noncombat-related illness last week, defense officials said.
Spc. Steven Jesse Bishop, who worked in Roanoke processing scrap metal into various products, died Saturday of an unspecified illness after serving since June near the northwestern city of Tal Afar, the U.S. Army said in a news release Wednesday.
As a soldier at war and as a civilian at home, Bishop's friends considered him a methodical worker with a calm demeanor. Family members declined to be interviewed.
"He stayed even-keeled all the time," his supervisor, Sgt. 1st Class Chris Kern, said over the phone. "He was very mature, and that's the kind of person you wanted. He was not very excitable."
Bishop grew up in Floyd County and was a starting tackle on the county's high school football team until he graduated in 1999, coach Winfred Beale said.
As a student and after graduating, he frequented restaurants such as D.J.'s Drive In and listened to WSLC-FM, Star Country, said friend and high school classmate Ben Hall.
He served as a volunteer firefighter with the Floyd County Fire Department sometime between 2001 and 2005, and lived with his parents until 2007, Hall said. In September that year, he bought a one-story, four-bedroom house off of South Franklin Street in Christiansburg, according to town records.
During that time, he worked for Steel Dynamics in Roanoke, in a section where he heated and pressed processed scrap metal, Hall said.
In Iraq, Kern said, Bishop worked in a four-person unit near Tal Afar as part of the 422nd Civil Affairs Battalion, 352nd Civil Affairs Command, U.S. Army Civil Affairs and Psychological Operations Command based in Fort Bragg, N.C.
The city saw conflict as late as July and September, when suicide bombers killed 41 people and two suspected insurgents were killed. But Bishop's work entailed interviewing local religious and secular leaders and arranging for the construction of schools, roads and plumbing to help stabilize the region, Kern said.
In his six months there, his team completed about 50 projects, working 12- to 18-hour days six days a week, Kern said. They were scheduled to return to the United States in June.
From the trailer where and he and his three teammates lived, Bishop would communicate over e-mail almost daily with friends and family in Southwest Virginia.
"He was enjoying what he was doing," Hall said. "He talked real well about the military and his fellow soldiers."