“Honoring our fallen heroes, that’s what it is all about.” That was the answer I received when I asked Bobby (Skip) Ferguson why he wanted to put two monuments on the Courthouse Square to show the names of three local heroes who were killed while serving our country. Although all three are together in a display at the Alabama Veterans Museum, we need to do more to publicly honor them. We already have monuments and statues honoring our troops back to the Civil War, and I think it is time we honor this generation. The three individuals are U.S. Marine Capt William E. Winters, Marine Cpl Adam Loggins, and Army PFC Ricky Turner.
In what was the deadliest attack against the U.S. Marines since the battle of Iwo Jima, U.S. Marine Capt William E. Winters made the ultimate sacrifice. While on a “peace keeping mission” in Beirut, Lebanon, Capt Winters was among the 241 American troops who lost their life that day. At 6:22 am on October 23, 1983, a truck carrying 2000 pounds of explosives drove into the Marine compound in Beirut, Lebanon, and crashed into the 1st Battalion, 8th Marine Regimental Battalion Landing Team barracks. The bombing was traced to Hezbollah, a militant and political group that originated in Lebanon in 1982. The FBI called it the largest non-nuclear bomb in history. Capt Winter was posthumously promoted to Major. “We must keep their memories alive. These men made a great sacrifice for peace, but so did their families,” said his daughter Amanda Moore.
U.S. Marine Lance Cpl Adam Loggins wanted to look back at his life and feel like he had done something. He always wanted to join the Marines; although his family tried to talk him out of it, after 9/11 there was no stopping him. Adam was killed by sniper fire on April 26, 2007, while conducting combat operations in the Anbar province of Iraq. He was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 6th Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.
Army PFC Ricky L. Turner died January 16, 2009, while serving in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. PFC Turner was in Baghdad, Iraq, when an improvised explosive device detonated near his patrol unit; he died of wounds sustained during this attack. He was assigned to the 3rd Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, N.C. “Ricky wanted to join the military and stand up for his country, and he died doing what he wanted to do,” said his father, James Lee Turner.
Maj Winter will be on one monument titled, “Beirut, Lebanon.” Cpl Loggins and PFC Turner will share the other one, which will be named “Iraq/Afghanistan.” We pray that we never have to add another name on the monument; however, we need to leave some additional space because the war in the Middle East is not over.
Donations to help fund this project may be made by contacting Skip Ferguson at 256-529-5907 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Donations can also be made to the Kenny Black Detachment of the Marine Corps League at PO Box 1216, Athens AL 35612, and at the Alabama Veterans Museum. Please denote “Monument Fund” on the donation. Look for future fundraisers to raise the monies to fund this project. The cost is estimated to be $800-1,000.
By: Sandra Thompson, Director, Alabama Veterans’ Museum