Natchez native Partridge killed in Iraq war

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 31, 2005

NATCHEZ &045; The war in Iraq has claimed another Natchez native.

Army Sgt. Todd Partridge, a military policeman who had just turned 35 earlier this month, was killed Saturday when a bomb exploded near the vehicle he was driving while on duty in Iraq, his cousin Shelley Poole said. The exact location and time of his death were not available Saturday night.

He left behind his wife, Rhonda, and two daughters: Kelsee, 11, and Kymberlee, 9.

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&uot;He was a wonderful father,&uot; said Poole, one of several family members who were traveling to be with Partridge’s mother, Camille McKinney. &uot;He loved his family. And he loved the Lord.&uot;

It was in a quest to better support his family that Partridge, a 1988 South Natchez High School graduate who trained in refrigeration and welding at Copiah-Lincoln Community College, joined the Army.

In the months after his employer, Johns Manville, closed in September 2002, he joined the Army, which stationed him and his family at Fort Lewis, Wash.

&uot;He had only been in the service for two years,&uot; his sister, Darlene Moon of Vidalia, said about her younger brother, adding &uot;he loved his country.&uot;

As they gathered Saturday night, family members remembered how Partridge loved the outdoors. An avid hunter, he also advanced to regional and state championship in baseball in his youth, showing talent as a pitcher.

He was also remembered as a committed Christian. Before the family moved to Washington state, they attended First Baptist Church in Natchez.

But most of all, they remembered his outgoing nature. Poole said she’ll especially miss the big hugs he gave her every time they met. &uot;And his smile,&uot; she said, slipping into present tense as she spoke. &uot;He always has a smile on his face.&uot;

As of Saturday, it was still too soon for Partridge’s family to plan details of his memorial service and burial.

They had just gotten the news themselves from Army officers who made their way to the McKinney home Saturday afternoon.

&uot;There were two of them,&uot; Phil McKinney, Partridge’s stepfather, recalled. &uot;They say when there’s two at your door Š&uot;