Nation & World

Holly Springs soldier dies in Iraq

A soldier from Holly Springs died Sunday while overseas supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom, Department of Defense officials announced Monday night.

Capt. Michael Shean Fielder, 35, field veterinary service officer, was killed during a noncombat-related incident in Baghdad. He was assigned to the 248th Medical Company (Veterinary Services), 44th Medical Command, XVIII Airborne Corps at Fort Bragg.

Army officials said Monday night that Fielder's death is under investigation.

Fielder had been in the Navy from 1990 to 1994, then enjoyed civilian life for several years before joining the Army in June 2000.

According to Fielder's wife, Mary, he joined the Army because of the scholarship opportunities. He earned a bachelor of science in zoology and a doctorate in veterinary medicine from N.C. State University in 2004. After graduation, Fielder began Army training.

He completed the Army Medical Department Officer Basic Course and the Veterinary Clinic Proficiency Course.

He was assigned to his most recent unit in September. The unit was deployed to Iraq that month.

"Michael, first and foremost, was a husband, and a wonderful and devoted friend," said Tonya Hinkle, speaking on behalf of Mary Fielder. "He was a vet that absolutely loved his job and was quite a wonderful father to the soldiers he had."

Hinkle said Michael Fielder could make anybody feel welcome and always had a joke handy when needed -- or not.

On Monday night, family and friends were still reeling from his death.

"We feel at any time this is going to end and we're going to wake up," Hinkle said. "Everybody's numb. Numb and speechless."

Besides his wife, Fielder leaves behind three "furry" friends -- a pit bull-Rottweiler mix named Buckethead, a Rottweiler named Haley and a domestic long-haired cat named Frankie.

"They were the apple of his eye," Hinkle said.

A memorial service is scheduled for Saturday by Fielder's unit in Iraq.

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