04/08/08 — Duplin soldier killed in Iraq

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Duplin soldier killed in Iraq

By Kenneth Fine
Published in News on April 8, 2008 2:21 PM

The war in Iraq came home to Duplin County early this morning as the Department of Defense announced the weekend death of Army National Guard Staff Sgt. and Wallace police officer Emanuel Pickett.

Pickett, 34, of Teachey, died in Baghdad of "wounds suffered when enemy forces attacked with indirect fire," the DOD news release said. He was assigned to the Rocky Mount-based 1132nd Military Police Company.

National Guard spokesman Maj. Matt Handley said Pickett and other soldiers were hit during mortar or rocket attacks on their base. Fourteen others from the unit, including nine from North Carolina, were injured in the attack.

Steve Johnson was not surprised when he heard the news.

His 21-year-old son Joseph, also a member of the 1132nd, called from Baghdad Monday.

"He said, 'Something really bad has happened. Men were killed. But I'm OK. I'll call back you when I can. I love you,'" Steve said. "I guess they had told all the guys to call home. They wanted them to let their families know they were safe."

But the Dudley resident said he feels anything but reassured.

Joseph and his unit have been in several "close calls," he said.

And Pickett was not the first friend his son has lost.

So Steve and his wife, Shirley, will continue to pray for their son's safe return as a town, county, state and nation mourn Joseph's fallen comrade.

At press time, officials at Wallace Town Hall said no memorials had yet been planned.

-- The Associated Press contributed to this report.