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Ontario High Graduate Killed in Iraq Accident

August 04, 2003|Hilda Munoz | Times Staff Writer

An Ontario High School graduate and Army sergeant has died in a vehicle accident in Iraq, authorities said.

Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Willoughby, 29, was riding in a vehicle that rolled over near the Baghdad airport July 20, said Army spokesman Pete Christake.

Willoughby graduated in 1991 from Ontario High School, where he was captain of the swim team.

Friends and family remember him as a gregarious person who could liven up any situation.

"He just had a really good sense of humor," said his wife, Geannine, from their home in Phoenix City, Ala. "He was fun to be around; he made life fun."

The couple met on the Ontario High swim team.

They were married in 1993 and had two boys, 9-year-old Blake and 16-month-old Collin.

When Willoughby found the time to call from Iraq, she would tell her husband how his family was doing and ask him to take care of himself.

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Tuesday August 05, 2003 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 1 inches; 39 words Type of Material: Correction
Army casualty -- An article in Monday's California section about an Ontario Army sergeant who died in Iraq contained two misspellings. His wife's name is Jeannine Willoughby, not Geannine. And he resided in Phenix City, not Phoenix City, Ala.

"The conversations weren't long," said Geannine Willoughby, 27. "You're lucky if you get five to 10 minutes."

She said she was initially worried about Willoughby when he decided to enlist, but eventually grew to appreciate his military career.

"I learned to be extremely proud of what he did," she said.

Willoughby enlisted in March 1998, Christake said. He was assigned to 221st Military Intelligence Battalion out of Ft. Gillem, Ga., he said.

His father, Robert Willoughby lives in South Carolina. His mother, Joann Hudson, and her husband, Jay, live in Grants Pass, Ore.

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