Karen Watson was helping to set up a mobile water purification plant in Mosul on March 15 when she and three other U.S. relief workers were killed in a drive-by shooting. She was 38.
Described by friends as a warm and fun-loving woman, Watson joined the Valley Baptist Church in Bakersfield, Calif., seven years ago and dedicated her life to doing missionary work. She joined the Southern Baptist International Mission Board, and began restoring schools for children living in El Salvador, Mexico, Macedonia and Kosovo before traveling to Iraq in 2003.
Watson graduated from high school and worked as a detention officer at the Kern County jail in Lerdo, Calif. In her off-hours, she led a Bible study class and participated in her church's singles group.
Before she left for Iraq, Watson gave her pastor a two-page letter in a sealed envelope, with instructions to read it if she died overseas. When Pastor Phil Neighbors opened the letter, it began: "When God calls, there are no regrets. To suffer was expected. His glory is my reward."