Paso Times 09/26/06:
El Paso soldier killed while on patrol in Iraq
By Daniel Borunda / El Paso Times
A 1995 Eastwood High School graduate who followed his father's footsteps into the U.S. Army was killed Saturday when a bomb exploded while he was on patrol in Iraq, his family said Monday.
Sgt. Velton Locklear III was a husband, the father of two boys and a dedicated soldier who last month started his second tour of duty in Iraq, relatives said.
Locklear, 29, of the 25th Infantry, 3rd Brigade 2-27th Infantry Battalion, was killed when an improvised explosive device destroyed the vehicle in which he was riding while on patrol near the city of Kirkuk, his family said.
"He wanted to be an infantry soldier. He was interested in being up front where all the action is," his father, retired Sgt. Maj. Velton Locklear Jr., said via telephone from Laredo.
Locklear was born in El Paso while his dad was stationed at Fort Bliss. He was the only son of three children. In high school, he was a standout wide receiver, wearing No. 4 for the Eastwood Troopers.
"I've had so many kids, but a few stick out that you really remember. He was one of those. Everybody liked him," said Wade Ardoin, Eastwood's head football coach who was the school's offensive coordinator in 1995.
After a semester in college, Locklear joined the Army, his father said.
"I was extremely proud he joined the military. I encouraged him to do that and sometimes I feel guilty for doing that. (But) he definitely enjoyed the military life," the elder Locklear, a Junior ROTC instructor in Laredo, said.
The senior Locklear recalled his son's passion for the Army displayed in a telephone call one night.
"He called me from the range and he said, 'Dad, I want you to hear something.' He put the phone up in the air. They were firing semi-automatic weapons in the range. He loved the Army. He ate it up. The camaraderie. All that Hoo-ah stuff."
His father said Locklear didn't talk much about his first tour in Iraq from April 2004 to February 2005 but did say that even though Iraq was a dangerous place he felt it was making progress when the elections took place.
Williams of El Paso described his cousin Velton as an athlete with "a heart of gold. He was a very kind person, very humble. He was a brave soldier who loved what he did."
The funeral will take place in El Paso, where much of the family resides.
Service arrangements are pending.
Locklear's wife, Denise, and sons, 5-year-old Nathan and 7-year-old Velton IV, are coming into town from Hawaii, where Locklear was stationed.
"Velton, he is a living legacy," his father said. "He served his country courageously and we are extremely proud of him, and his family can be proud of him. He paid the ultimate price for his family and his country, and we will always love him for that."
Daniel Borunda may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org; 546-6102.
El Paso Times reporter Bret Bloomquist contributed to this story.