LAFAYETTE CO., AR (KSLA) - This week marks the 10 year anniversary of one of the first Southwest Arkansas soldiers to die in the War on Terror. That officer was from LaFayette County.
In April of 2004 KSLA News 12 was with Dr. Cheryl Stuart when she was officially notified that her son, Captain Arthur Bo Felder, was killed while serving with the Arkansas National Guard in Iraq.
"It is as difficult on this tenth year anniversary as it was 10 days," Stuart said.
Felder's body was returned to Arkansas where memorial services were held in his home town of Lewisville and Little Rock.
"And I want you to know you must be awfully special sir because we don't even come over here," Stuart said.
Monday, KSLA News 12 revisited Stuart as she prepared for the anniversary of her son's death. She shared some special moments and some of Felder's accomplishments.
"This is the Purple Heart. This is the Bronze Star," she said. "'I love you very much and miss you that much more.' And, you would have to know his sense of humor, he signed it, 'Me.'"
Texarkana, AR police officer Tom Briggs served under Felder's leadership while in the military.
"He was a great leader," Briggs said. "He was a great friend and most of all he was my mentor. He mentored me for most of my teenage years."
Briggs and Felder were with the 39th Infantry of the Arkansas National Guard. The two served in Iraq together.
Stuart mourns the loss of her son with a grief she wasn't sure she could bear.
"I wouldn't wish it on my greatest enemy," she said. "I didn't know a person could survive so much pain. It has been hard, it has been difficult but my strength is in knowing that my son was a Christian man and knowing that he died doing what he chose to do, and that was to protect his country."
Since Capt. Felder's death, a non-profit organization has been established to provide college scholarships. Dr. Stuart says they are trying to raise $10,000 to mark the 10th anniversary of his death. Those interested in making a donation can call (903) 831-8541.