Willie Atlas ‘Will’ McLawhorn was born in Whiteville, Columbus County North Carolina, on April 2, 1987 to Willie and Diane McLawhorn and to his sister Melanie. He lived in Whiteville until the family moved to Conway, North Carolina in 1998. Will enjoyed sports as a boy playing baseball in the Dixie Youth League in Whiteville. He also participated in the RA basketball league of the Columbus Baptist Association. He was baptized into the Western Prong Baptist Church and enjoyed his associations with many friends there.
Upon coming to Conway, he continued his love of sports participating in Rec. league baseball and basketball. Will attended Northeast Academy of Lasker, North Carolina, graduating in 2005. While there he continued his love of basketball and baseball playing both sports on the junior varsity and varsity level. He was selected to the All-Roanoke-Chowan Baseball Team his senior year. Will also enjoyed hunting and killed an 8 point buck with his first shot.
From an early age, Will loved to play army, building forts and tossing pine cones pretending they were grenades. In November 2006 Will officially became an infantryman when he joined the United States Army. He did basic training and AIT at Fort Benning, Georgia. Upon graduation, he was assigned to the 101st Airborne Division where he became a part of the Screaming Eagle family. Prior to deployment to Iraq in 2007, he graduated from Air Assault School earning his Air Assault Wings. He served 15 months in Iraq and reenlisted for 5 years while there. During the next months he earned his Airborne Jump Wings as well as additional training for becoming an NCO. In June of 2010 he deployed with his unit to Afghanistan. Will grew to love his country and wanted to protect her even if it meant giving his life. He loved his band of brothers who affectionately called him ‘Claw.’
Will loved life and had a great sense of humor often quipping out one-liners that could leave you in stitches. He was faithful to his friends and would stand with them through thick and thin. He knew that death was a possibility with what he did, but because of his faith, he saw death as simply ‘another great adventure.’ A great soldier and a great man will be surely missed.
Preceding him in death are his maternal grandfather, Earl Barnes and his maternal grandmother and grandfather, Martha Smith McLawhorn and H.M. McLawhorn
Survivors include his mother and father, Diane and Willie McLawhorn of Conway, North Carolina, one sister, Melanie A. McLawhorn of Kelford, North Carolina and his maternal grandmother, Ellen Clark Barnes of Conway, North Carolina.