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When their loved one died in the Iraq War, this duo turned their pain into a passion to serve

Angels from the Battlefield
Posted at 10:16 PM, May 23, 2022

Angels are alive and well in Northern Kentucky, ensuring veterans who’ve died in service to their country are forever remembered.

“Once they’re laid to rest their names aren’t spoken again,” Darlene Williams said. "That’s our worse fear, and we’ll never let anybody not say our husband or loved one’s names. We’ll keep that going."

Williams lost her husband Ronnie Williams July 17, 2005. Her husband served with the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, K Troop, based at Fort Carson, Colorado. While on his second tour of duty in Iraq, he died when the tank he was in flipped over in a ravine.

“We got less than six months as husband and wife to spend together,” Williams said.

Williams lost her husband and Theresa Heeger lost a brother-in-law. With this shared loss, the two started a mission to be sure those who are lost to war are never forgotten. Eventually, friends and family said the tables and displays they were setting up at a variety of locations could have a much larger impact. The two filed for nonprofit status and started Angels from the Battlefield.

Printed vinyl banners cover a trailer, each with the face and name of a soldier killed in combat. Williams said the number of banners have grown and collectively send a strong message of the cost of freedom.

“When you see 45 posters or banners going down the road that should be the raw reality that that’s 45 lives right in front of your face that gave the ultimate sacrifice,” Williams said. “To live in peace and happiness they did that for us.”

As they continued making banners, they also made blankets with soldiers’ photos on them to give to Gold Star families. They’ve delivered food baskets to veterans needing a hand up. They also found themselves helping homeless veterans, vets with financial issues and even held a fundraiser to help bury a Marine veteran.

“We knew one way or another we needed to pull it off,” Heeger said. “In two weeks, we were able to raise the funds with the help of the community to have that service member laid to rest at Williamstown cemetery. We had him laid to rest with full military honors.”

Specialist Ronnie Williams, known as John Boy by those who knew him best, serves as the inspiration of Angels from the Battlefield — a lasting impact on the community he vowed to defend.

“This is our mission,” Heeger said. “This is our way of carrying on John’s legacy, carrying on his mission because unfortunately his was cut short.”

To find out more about the Angels from the Battlefield mission, visit their Facebook page.

If you have a veteran story to tell in your community, email homefront@wcpo.com. You also can join the Homefront Facebook group, follow Craig McKee on Facebook and find more Homefront stories here.