• Branch: Marines
  • Hometown/City: LENOIR CITY, TN
  • Date of Birth: 09-16-1982
  • Date of Death: 12-27-2006
  • Conflict: Operation Iraqi Freedom
  • Unit: I CO, 3D BN, 2D MAR, (RCT-5, I MEF FWD), 2D MAR DIV
  • Port/Base: CAMP LEJEUNE, NC

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  • William (Billy as we called him) was a quiet guy yet funny. He was also very compassionate, stubborn, kind, loving and loyal. The guys he served with told us how he could take them somewhere and remember how to get them back. His sense of direction was incredible. They referred to him as very smart as well. That makes my heart swell with pride knowing how he took care of his fellow Marines. He LOVED Christmas. One time he told me it wouldn't be Christmas until he was home. What a great thing to tell your mom. I had a sense around Thanksgiving that Billy was in grave danger. I had many people praying for him. He was killed Dec. 27th. After we received word of his death many things made sense to me.

    The day he was born I was so very thankful we were NOT at war. I was 12 when my brother in law was drafted and went to Vietnam. That day left a huge impact on my life. For some reason I guess I thought or hoped we would not go to war where my son would be drafted or of age to serve. Just shows how naive I was.

    We are not bitter about our son's death. We understand he had a mission to accomplish. Not just one having to do with protecting our freedoms but something he felt the Marines could help him accomplish as a personal goal. We live our lives knowing he would want us to be proud of what he was accomplishing and that some day we will be reunited. I can't wait to hold him in my arms and tell him how much I love him.

    If you learn nothing else from this post - please know that this was someones son that felt your freedoms were important enough for him to sacrifice his life so that you would be free.

    Bernice Koprince, Mother
  • I wanted to share this with you as it's only something that would be known if you were there. I attended a Christian conference in Winston Salem NC this week. Rick from Bill's squad was there. He was with Bill the day he got hit. Rick has changed a lot and had his battles. We shared stories for about an hour last night. One thing that stood out was a detail about Billy literally moments before he was hit. I want to share it with you because it shows his personality. Even being in a crap hole country away from family. He was still happy and a goof. Rick said they cleared the house... and was walking around it afterwards. He said there was a staircase. The people that the house belong to had a clothes line strung up from the staircase to the wall. Rick said it was was just in an awkward place and looked awkward. He said Bill yelled "Hayes" and hayes turned around to Bill with his knees bent, arms out like he was balancing on a surfboard and said "it's a tight rope man" jokingly and acted like he was about to walk it.

    Bernie Koprince - for Rick Hayes, Son - Battle Buddy