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Florida veterans honor fallen soldiers

Friday afternoon three members from the Florida Veterans Foundation stopped at Oak City Cemetery to honor two men whose lives were lost in combat. They held a small ceremony and placed a memory rock on the graves of Ellis L. Faircloth and Stephen L. Halstead.

According to US Air Force Captain David Wilson, every Friday he, retired US Marine Corps. Major John Haynes and retired Chief Master Sergeant, Charles LeCroy visit different graves in the area of those lost in combat.

The veterans first honored PFC Halstead.

Halstead was infantryman in the US Army serving with B Company, 2nd Battalion, 14th Infantry, 25th Infantry Division. On March 24, 1968, PFC Halstead was killed after his unit was inserted by aircraft on a combat mission near Sa Nho in the Ho Bo Woods, six miles northeast of Trang Bang in Hau Nghia Province, RVN. Halstead was the first man killed in the unit at the age of 20 years-old.

They then traveled to the gravesite to honor Faircloth.

Faircloth was a field communications, electronics equipment mechanic in the US Army serving with A Company, 1st Battalion, 501st Infantry, 101st Airborne Division. On May 8, 1968, Fairlcoth was killed in hostile action at the age of 25-years-old.

“We thank you for your service and your heroism in combat,” Major Haynes said. “Farewell; may God bless you and your family.”

When asked what it means to him to be able to speak at fellow officers’ grave sites, Haynes said that he felt fortunate to be able to live through the war and enjoy what life has to offer now.

“These veterans here fought for the country and in many cases they died for their country and now will never enjoy the benefits,” Haynes said. “It means a lot for us to do this and honor those men who will never get to enjoy this great country. We were all veterans and they were denied that opportunity to see what happens after the war.”

Haynes, Wilson and LeCroy will now visit cemeteries in Cairo and Attapulgus before returning to Tallahassee.
They hope to return to Bainbridge in a matter of months to honor more fallen veterans and their loved ones.