PAnews.com, Port Arthur, Texas

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July 25, 2013

Parents of PA soldier grateful for ‘overwhelming community support’

PORT ARTHUR — After news broke that Glenda and Ronald Key’s son, Spc. Anthony R. Maddox, had died from burns sustained in a non-combat situation while on active duty in Afghanistan, the family has received an outpouring of support from their community.

On Wednesday, two strangers stopped by their Port Arthur home to drop off a handmade patriotic quilt and a homemade cake for the couple. In the afternoon hours, two of Glenda’s coworkers from Community Bank arrived with food from Chick-fil-A and offered any kind of support to the couple.

“The support from the community has been overwhelming — makes us happy that we chose to stay here,” Ronald said, in front of his doorway which was decorated with yellow ribbons.

Glenda had spoken with her 22-year-old son on Friday and said he was excited because he thought he would be able to come home on August 19.

The family didn’t know it then, but Maddox had recently been promoted to Sergeant.

No less than 24 hours later on Saturday, July 21, the family received a phone call from army officials about an incident that had occurred where Maddox received burns to 95 percent of his upper body, Ronald said.

“Not all of the information was available right then,” Ronald said. Another day passed before they received a second call about his death at a hospital in Landstuhl, Germany.

“Words cannot even say how I felt,” Glenda said of her reaction to the phone call. “I was out of control.”

After graduating from Nederland High School in 2009, Maddox spent a year in Job Corps, a program administered by the federal government that offers affordable education and vocational training. Upon his return, he informed them that he wanted to join the military.

“He has many family members who were in the armed forces,” Ronald said. “There was also military personnel at a job fair he attended in high school.”

When she first heard of his decision, Glenda was apprehensive.

“I didn’t want him to be in harm’s way,” she said.

The Keys moved to Port Arthur after Hurricane Katrina ripped through New Orleans in 2005. Ronald was transferred to a job in the area, he said, and it seemed like a good family area.

At the time, Maddox was living with his father in Illinois, but moved to Port Arthur and began attending Nederland High School in 2007 as a sophomore.

His parents said that Maddox enjoyed his years at the high school and made many friends. “He was much loved by people,” Glenda said.

The quiet and conscientious high schooler had played football since Pee Wee league, his parents said.

On the football field, Maddox displayed a much different personality quirk.

“His nickname was Mad Dog,” Ronald said, laughing. “Once he was on that field, it was a different story.”

Both Ronald and Glenda described their son as someone who would always look out for people, even as a young person.

“If there was someone being picked on, Anthony would always take up for him,” Ronald said. “Some things you can’t be coached — that was bred in him.”

“Anthony would give you his last dollar if you needed it; he was quick to share,” Glenda said.

Since this was his first full tour of duty in Afghanistan, Maddox didn’t have many stories to share with his parents just yet. “He said it was hot,” Glenda said, smiling.

Maddox kept up with his Facebook regularly and stayed in touch with his family often, Glenda said.

Without a specific date of his return to the United States, the Keys have arranged a service at Antioch Missionary Baptist Church in Port Arthur with Gabriel Funeral Home overseeing, but no day picked out yet. Maddox will be buried at the Houston National Cemetery.

His body will be flown into the Jack Brooks Regional Airport, Ronald said.

“Right now, we’re just waiting,” Glenda said.

Until they receive word on his arrival back home, the Keys will continue to mourn their son and are grateful for the sincerity of support from friends and the Mid-County community.

“Earlier I went to the store and was looking at a newspaper when I ran into someone I knew,” Ronald said. “They looked at the paper and saw his picture and recognized him as my son and he started crying.”

“We had that (sense of community) where we’re from, but not like it is here,” he said.

Email: jgarcia@panews.com

Twitter: @julesbmt

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