By JB Clark/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – Family and friends of Sgt. 1st Class Billy Sutton gathered Saturday morning and remembered him as a friend to everyone and a great leader.
Sutton, 42, of Mooreville, died Feb. 7 while serving his third tour of duty with the Army National Guard’s 228th Sapper Company out of Houston. He was the leader of the platoon, which he nicknamed the Honey Badgers.
His funeral service was Saturday at Holland Funeral Home with internment at Lee Memorial Park in Verona.
“I stand here representing the more than one million men and women who wear a uniform in the United States Army,” Brig. Gen. Augustus L. Collins said at the funeral. “Today the Army is grieving because one of our friends, our brothers, our comrades is no longer with us.”
Collins, who previously served with Sutton during Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2005, said there is now a hole in the ranks of the unit. He said Sutton, “gave himself freely” and “placed himself between the enemy and the things he felt in life that were better.”
Collins went on to explain how dangerous the Anbar province was in 2005.
“He made it through that tour, and a tour like that will turn people off, and they won’t want anything more to do with the military,” he said. “Instead he stayed, and he deployed again and again. Those who served with him will tell you he was a soldier’s soldier. He was the type of person who would stay with a task until it was done.
“It’s because of Billy Sutton and others like him that you and I have the opportunity to vote, to speak freely, to assemble and to worship in the religion of our choice.”
Outside of the military, Sutton enjoyed duck hunting, training dogs, shooting his many guns and all things Elvis. He grew up in the Baldwyn area, graduating from Baldwyn High School in 1987 and later from Northeast Mississippi Community College. He served four years in the U.S. Army and was an electrical technician when not deployed.
Memorials can be made to the Tupelo Veterans Park, P.O. Box 3608, Tupelo, MS 38803 or to Pets for Patriots, 218 East Park Ave., Suite 543, Long Beach, NY 11561.