‘Never forget him. That’s all we ask.’

Published 10:16 am Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Scott Seddon of Post 4411 presents a flag that was flown over the Capitol to Sharon and Frank Patterson. -- STEPHEN H. COWLES | TIDEWATER NEWS

Scott Seddon of Post 4411 presents a flag that was flown over the Capitol to Sharon and Frank Patterson. — STEPHEN H. COWLES | TIDEWATER NEWS

CARRSVILLE—The ceremony on Saturday to name VFW Post 4411 in memory of a Marine killed in action was full of love, life and respect.

“Sgt. Jayton Patterson paid the ultimate price for our freedom,” said Post Commander Kevin Meyers after the posting of colors. “He is our hometown hero. This is the highest honor we can bestow. From this day forward, we are the Sgt. J.D. Patterson Post 4411.”

Born to Sharon and Frank Patterson on Aug. 9, 1978, in Franklin, he was reared in Sedley. A 1996 graduate of Tidewater Academy, he joined the Marines in 1999. Four years later he married Stephanie Bays, and they had a daughter, Claire, in late 2003. Stationed in Iraq, Patterson was killed in action on Jan. 15, 2005.

Following the presentation of a flag, a Bible and other mementos, Frank Patterson spoke about one of the last times that he and his son spoke together.

“We had some dad-and-son time and he told me what he had seen…He had matured. He had become a man,” Patterson said. “He didn’t want them [referring to his wife and child], us and the American people to be afraid.

“When people would ask us, ‘What can we do?’ Never forget him. That’s all we ask. It’s fitting that the post is named after him.”

Lt. Col. F. Lance Lewis, a guest speaker, reminisced about his comrade. They met at the start of Lewis’s own military career by Patterson helping put together his kit. Later, when it was Lewis’s turn to help other new Marines, “I always had him in mind.”

“He was always calm,” Lewis continued. “When he spoke, it meant something.”

More than once Patterson was observed reassuring his fellow Marines with a word or two or a hand on a shoulder.

“That is a leader. He was inspiring others while it was going down,” said Lewis. “He brought security. He gave hope, peace and stability to that little piece of Iraq.”

Among the gestures of tribute was a roll call for Patterson, and the performance of “The Bells of Dunblane” by John R. Tyson, a pipe major of the Greenville Public Safety Pipes and Drums.

While giving the invocation and benediction, the Rev. Mike Harrell of Millfield Baptist Church had became visibly emotionally as he remembered the young man, who at one time was planning to become a minister himself. He not only had baptized Jayton, but also conducted the funeral.

Along with the parents were Jayton’s wife and daughter, Stephanie and Claire.

“I was very honored,” said Stephanie about the ceremony. “It was very emotional.”

There in support of the family, especially Sharon, were three members of the American Gold Star Mothers Club: Darlene Kelly, Mona Gunn and Maggie Sticklen. They too had each lost a son in service to the country. Kelly’s son, Shawn M. Dunkin, died seven years ago; Cherone Louis Gunn was killed during a suicide bomber’s attack on the USS Cole in 2000; and Joshua Sticklen, who died in 2006.

Sharon said afterward that the AGSM’s support has “been a blessing.”

As for the naming of the post, Sharon said, “We’re just very, very honored that they would want to do that,” and added that she’d also like to know who proposed her son’s name.

“It just amazing after all this time that there are people who are still remembering him.”