‘We are here for you’: Community rallies around family of Carrollton soldier

Sgt. William Jerome Rivers, 46, of Carrollton was one of the three Georgians killed Sunday.

Credit: Associated Press

Credit: Associated Press

Sgt. William Jerome Rivers, 46, of Carrollton was one of the three Georgians killed Sunday.

Sgt. William Jerome Rivers’ community has surrounded his grieving family with love.

After news that the Army Reservist from Carrollton was one of three from Georgia killed in a drone attack in Jordan, support and condolences have poured in.

Shane Davis came to the Rivers’ home Tuesday morning with a plant and a heartfelt message: We are here for you.

”You just try to reach out, that’s what we’re here for,” said Davis, chairman and president of local non-profit West Georgia First Responders. “In this time of need, reach out and let them know we are here.”

The family didn’t want to speak publicly. A neighbor who brought some pies for the family didn’t want to, either.

Spc. Breonna Alexsondria Moffett, 23, of Savannah and Spc. Kennedy Ladon Sanders, 24, of Waycross were also killed in the assault, which injured more than 40 others.

”It really hits home,” said Davis. “It really makes you think about when you’re watching the news, it isn’t just somewhere else.”

His small west Georgia town, he said, is a place where folks care for those who are hurting.

“Carrollton is really good about rallying around the family and rallying around people in general,” he said. “I’m sure that they’re going to rally around this family too, just like they would anybody else.”

Sergeant Rivers served with courage, honor, and a deep sense of duty, embodying the best of New Jersey and our nation....

Posted by Senator Cory Booker on Tuesday, January 30, 2024

The U.S. Defense Department said Williams joined the Army Reserve in New Jersey in 2011 and served a nine-month tour in Iraq in 2018. He joined the 718th Engineering Company at Fort Moore last year, according to The Associated Press.

Barry Gardner served in the Army for 25 years before he retired in 1990 and has lived in Carrollton for the past 19 years. He served at Fort Moore so hearing about a fellow soldier being killed on active duty hits close to home.

“When anybody gives their life in action, I’m always concerned about that, so that hit home. It hit more home when it was from Carrollton,” Gardner said. “Even though I do not know Sgt. Rivers or his family, we share that brotherhood and my thoughts go out to the family and everything else.”

LTC Barry Gardner, President of Carrol County Veterans Memorial Park Association, points out the possible location for Sgt. William Rivers’s name on one of the memorial walls on Tuesday, January 30, 2024. The association is planning a dedication day for Sgt. William Rivers, after the official funeral services in Fort Moore.
Miguel Martinez /miguel.martinezjimenez@ajc.com

Credit: Miguel Martinez/AJC

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Credit: Miguel Martinez/AJC

Gardner now serves as the Carroll County Veterans Memorial Park Association president. He said they plan to honor Rivers after funeral services are done at Fort Moore. Gardner said they are going to reach out to the family about their plans to honor Sgt. Rivers by having a ceremony and having his name engraved in the wall of fallen soldiers.

He was sadden to hear about the death of the three soldiers. He just wants to make sure the families feel their support and that they are ready to step it when needed.

“Military families sacrifice more than you’ll ever know and this family gave the ultimate sacrifice,” Gardner said.

His wife, Gloria Gardner, recalled her own experience about her first husband dying in combat during the Vietnam War. She said as soon as she saw uniformed officers arrive at her front door, she knew something was wrong.

Gloria Gardner said Rivers’ family needs to make sure the military takes care of a lot of things that need to be taken care of and be wary of people with bad intentions.

“Above all, she needs to make sure that she does not talk to people who are trying to lead her down the wrong way or trying to take advantage of her,” she said. “People come out of the woodwork and try to take advantage of you because you are grieving.”

The Carroll County Sheriff’s Office offered condolences to Rivers in a Facebook post Monday.

“We salute you and your family for your selfless sacrifice to our nation and we will never take for granted our freedoms that you and so many other men and women bravely defend each day,” the sheriff’s office said

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