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Community gathers to honor fallen soldier

Staff Sgt. Sheldon Tate returns to Liberty

POSTED: July 23, 2010 11:09 a.m.
Photo by Jen Alexander McCall/

Community members and officials gather Thursday along Highway 84 to honor the late Staff Sgt. Sheldon Tate as his funeral procession travels to Dorchester Funeral Home in Midway.

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A Patriot Flight brought the body of former Hinesville resident Staff Sgt. Sheldon Tate to Hunter Army Airfield in Savannah on Thursday afternoon. His funeral procession was welcomed to Liberty County and Dorchester Funeral Home in Midway by dozens of residents holding American flags in his honor. Members of the U.S. Honor Guard and local veterans accompanied the procession to the funeral home.
Tate, a former student at Bradwell Institute whose parents still live in the area, died July 13 in Kandahar City, Afghanistan while repelling an insurgent attack on an Afghan police compound.
Paul Spence, project officer for the Hinesville chapter of Vietnam Veterans of America, placed flags along the entrance to the funeral home in anticipation of Tate’s arrival.
Welcoming home soldiers killed in action in such fashion is never easy, Spence said. “We haven’t done this very often because we haven’t had locals who were KIAs. This is a little harder.”
Spence said recognizing fallen soldiers today is especially important because service members of his era did not get same the honor.
Lee Pierce, who retired from the Army after 26 years and today helps run the funeral home with his son, Reginald, said standing up for fallen service members is a way to honor their sacrifices  and pay respect to the services they’ve rendered to the country.
“It is them who guarantee our freedom. We’re called up on to do more now than we did in the past,” Pierce said.
Tate was assigned to the 782nd Brigade Support Battalion at Fort Bragg, N.C. This was his second deployment to Afghanistan. He first served in-country from March 2007 to March 2008 before returning in August last year. He will be interred at Hillside Memorial Park in Sumter, S.C.

 

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