Friday, October 29, 2010


I’m just a civilian, but from what I understand, Billy’s journey in the army is fairly commendable.  In December 2002, Billy enlisted in the army as a private first class (E3, toward the bottom of the army's ranking system).  After completing two deployments (Iraq and Afghanistan), he spent several years in the Old Guard in Washington D.C.  After a while, he decided to go to flight school to become an army pilot.  By April 2009, he finished Warrant Officer Training School, and was promoted to WO1.  From what I understand, becoming a Warrant Officer by the age of 24 is fairly uncommon.  But then again (and Billy’s friends would all agree), Billy’s not a common kind of guy.

Billy completed his aviation schooling in mid-August this year.  He completed a PT test around the same time, and officially graduated from flight school on September 2, 2010.  He’s officially a Blackhawk pilot.

Billy showing my mom the controls inside one of the older Blackhawks at Fort Rucker.

As my parents and I spent time with him in AL for his graduation, we often heard soldiers asking each other, “So where are you headed now?”  Army soldiers and members of the National Guard come to Fort Rucker for aviation training, and then get sent out again.  Some return home to places like New York or North Dakota.  And others get sent out to new places.  When people asked Billy where he was headed, he’d smile and answer, “Hawaii.”  As one might expect, it was an enviable assignment. We all joked about needing to plan a trip to see him.  It was a good excuse for a tropical vacation.

When news of Billy’s diagnosis hit Fort Rucker, people were shocked.  The word spread quickly, and people rallied together to show their support.  Captain Barnes and Major Smith called my mom and spent time trying to work out plans to get Billy to Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington D.C.  One of Billy’s flight instructors would call me almost daily to get an update on “Mac.”  No one expected something like this, and people worked to do whatever they could to support Billy.

I can see that my family’s presence is good for Billy.  He looks forward to spending time with us, talking, watching movies, and just hanging out.  But there’s something different that happens when army guys come in the room.  Friends from the army provide a kind of support and camaraderie that family doesn’t have.  Army support has been a key piece in Billy’s fight against cancer.

Just this past week, he received a HUGE care package from a whole slew of people at Fort Rucker.  I’d love to give credit to all of the contributors—but I don’t know who all of them are.  In the box were t-shirts, hats, an American flag, medals, and a letter.  I watched Billy’s face as we hung things up around the room, and I could tell he appreciated the gifts.  The box spoke volumes.

Sometimes they call it "Mother Rucker."

My favorite hat from Fort Rucker.

A very special American flag, and a letter that explains it.  That story to come later...

Many of the soldiers at Fort Rucker now don’t know Billy.  Fort Rucker—for most—isn’t an army destination.  It’s like college—a place a soldier goes for training to prepare him for army assignments elsewhere.  But the soldiers who are now in training at Fort Rucker wanted to show their support for one of their own, so they dedicated an early-morning PT session to Billy.  Last Friday, they gathered early (I don’t know what time exactly, but it was dark!) to run in Billy’s honor.  Here's an article about the run.

The banner from the run.

An early morning start!

Running Together


A video from last Friday's run. (Edited by my brother, Bobby.)

Thank you to everyone who has shown their support.  My family greatly appreciates it, and I know it is helping Billy to fight hard.  I know what I’m about to ask might seem impossible, but please join us in praying that he’ll be able to fly high again.

On the Matter of Prayer
On the subject of prayer, amazing things have been happening!  I sent out a quick message yesterday afternoon, asking people to pray...
They want to do a CAT scan (with contrast) today. It requires inserting dye into his body, which means turning off the NG suction for 2 hours. (This will be very difficult because of the fluid that builds in his belly & makes him nauseous.) Pray for God's protection, for his body to tolerate the dye, & for his belly to be calm through the whole procedure. Pray for a successful scan! Thanks!

Billy's stomach has not been working for over a month.  That's why he has the NG tube.  It pumps the extra fluid from his stomach, so that he doesn't get nauseous.  Throwing up all the time isn't good for his esophagus.

When I heard about the CAT scan, I got a little nervous.  Thus far, Billy hadn't done well when the NG tube wasn't pumping.  Too much time without suction would be miserable.  I wasn't sure he'd make it.  To make matters more intense, Billy would have to ingest 600mL of contrast--and keep it down--until the CAT scan was over.  It seemed impossible!

So that's why I sent out the message.

And late last night, I sent out an update...
Guess what! There was a miracle!  Billy was able to keep all of the liquid in. No nausea! They stopped the NG tube at 5pm, and started him on the contrast fluid. He finally got enough in him by 9:45pm, and they took him down for a CAT scan at 11:15pm. We were back in his room by midnight. 7 hours! I was amazed...seriously. Thank you so much for praying! 
I'm seeing evidence that prayer works.

We got the results of the CAT scan this morning, and I'm even more amazed.

Several weeks ago, when Billy was septic, the doctors told us that it was no longer possible to remove the fluid in his abdomen without an invasive surgery.  The reason was that the fluid was in thick little pockets all over the place, rather than one large collection like before.  Making several punctures all over his abdomen would have been fairly traumatic--as would a massive surgery to "rinse out" his belly.  It seemed like there were no options.

So my mom started praying that the little fluid pockets would all come together.

Guess what!  The CAT scan showed a large pocket of fluid on his left side, near the place where the surgical team made the incision last Saturday.  That means that Billy could have a far less invasive procedure done to drain the large pocket of fluid!  The surgeons plan to take him for surgery sometime today to insert a catheter to drain the fluid.  It's probably infected, and antibiotics probably aren't going to take care of it, so a catheter seems like the best option.

Meanwhile, Billy went for a walk a few days ago, and he went even farther today.  He told my mom that every time he walks, he feels stronger!

His will to live and his will to fight are inspiring.  I am honored to have him as my brother, and I am grateful to everyone who is supporting us and praying for us.  Thank you so much!

Ways to Pray
  • God to stop the cancer in its tracks--that despite what modern medicine says the odds are, Billy would be able to beat this!
  • Billy to be able to fly again
  • Steady hands for the surgeons as they insert the catheter, with no complications
  • Billy's body not to need antibiotics anymore (they're stopping one more of the antibiotics today)
  • Perseverance and good health for my family as we work to support and care for Billy
  • Creativity in battling the boredom associated with being stuck in a hospital bed!

Thanks for praying!


  1. This is so inspiring and a testament to how great of a person Will is.....I love you Will and pray for you daily, keep fighting brother.

  2. Psalm 77:14~
    "You are the God who performs miracles; you display your power among the peoples."

    Luckily, I know a big God. A God who knows nothing that we ask is impossible. We need only have the faith to believe, and to turn it over to him.

    With much love,

    p.s. I shared the Run for Will video on my blog too. What a beautiful testament to the military family that Will is a part of. Thank you for sharing this.

  3. I Corinthians 2:5That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.

    Psalm 103:1 A Psalm of David. Bless the LORD, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name. 2Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits: 3Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases; 4Who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies; 5Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things; so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle's.

    II Chronicles 20:1-30 (This one is too long to copy)

    We are praying and believing in Houston for Billy!!

  4. Oh how nice that they care for him so much, that is so nice. Also great to hear how strong he is, I wish him well. mindy

  5. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me!

  6. TRULY AMAZING AND WHAT AN INSPIRATION BILLY HIS FAMILY AND FRIENDS ARE.Y'All have touched so many of us and have made us value our family and lives God has away of getting messages to us all and i believe William was the chosen one for he has certainly touched many of our hearts with such bravery and his fight for life.I have followed you from the beginning and when i didn't hear from you Mon. i got scarred but i kept faith for i knew your brother was a fighter.THANK YOU FOR SHARING AND KEEPING US POSTED.GOD BLESS BILLY AND YOUR FAMILY MY THOUGHTS AND PRAYERS ARE WITH YOU. I WISH BILLY A BLESSED DAY AND COMFORT FOR ALL. THE GREENS IN TENN.

  7. Hey Billy, You continue to amaze us all. We are so proud of you and all you have accomplished, not only in the Army, but in Life. You have always been our hero!! Keep on fighting Buddy! We Love you so much! The LaBlue's
    P.S.....we've never been to Hawaii...would LOVE to visit you there too!!

  8. I am praying and agreeing on all the requests that he will live and not die and be a testimony to the Lord Jesus. Meg

  9. How touching the video is. So many people pulling for Will and your family. God is good and faithful. Praise Him for all the things that are happening.He is in control. In Jesus name. Linda(bvcob)

  10. Sending healing thoughts your way, Billy.... you are an inspiration, keep fighting!!!


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