Alabama Military Town Copes with Losing Students

ENTERPRISE, Ala. (AP) - Chief Warrant Officer Bill Tompkins was in Iraq when he got the call to come home and do something no parent wishes to do.

Tompkins was on hand today to bury his son who was killed along with seven classmates in a hallway when a powerful tornado wrecked
Enterprise High School last week.

In a packed sanctuary where many mourners wore military green, 17-year-old Michael "Mikey" Tompkins was remembered by his father's Army colleagues as "one of ours."

Five of the eight students killed at the high school had ties to Fort Rucker.

It's a reversal for the community which is now coping with the unexpected deaths of children instead of soldiers.

Ricky Davis, who served with the elder Tompkins in Desert Storm and is now stationed at Fort Benning, Georgia, said the deaths have hit the community hard.

The post recently has had to cope with a series of fatal downings in Iraq and Afghanistan.

A community-wide memorial service is scheduled at Fort Rucker Wednesday morning.

Three students were buried yesterday and a joint service was held this afternoon for best friends 16-year-old Andrew Joel "AJ" Jackson and 17-year-old Ryan Andrew Mohler.

The last two services are scheduled for Wednesday and Friday.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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