For the Miami Valley Sunday News
COLUMBIA, S.C. — The morning was overcast but warm on Fort Jackson on May 3. Chairs lined the sidewalk in front of a dining facility as a red, white and blue pennant swayed in the morning’s gentle breeze.
Even though rain threatened, roughly 100 soldiers, civilians and family members solemnly gathered at the 369th Adjutant General Battalion dining facility, witness the building’s dedication ceremony. The dining facility was renamed to remember and honor the life and service of Cpl. Samuel F. Pearson, an Army finance specialist killed in action on Oct. 10, 2007.
“Anyone who has lost a child knows that the pain never goes away,” said Randi Pearson, Cpl. Pearson’s father. “I miss him more every day.”
Randi Pearson and his wife Carolyn Pearson stood alongside Col. Richard A. Hoerner, U.S. Army Financial Management School commandant and chief of the Finance Corps, outside the entrance of the dining facility and unveiled a brass plaque chiseled with a photo of Cpl. Pearson smiling proudly. During the ceremony, Hoerner declared that from this day forward, Building 7500 will now be known as the Pearson DFAC.
“His name will forever be etched into the essence of this place,” said Chaplain (Maj.) Joseph Messinger during the ceremonies’ invocation.
Cpl. Pearson grew up in Piqua, where he played tight end for the Piqua High School Indians football team and again while attending Otterbein College. Like the majority of the graduating class of 2003, Cpl. Pearson moved to nearby Columbus, Ohio and entered the workforce as an accountant.
According to his father, Cpl. Pearson wasn’t quite satisfied with where he was in his life.
Enlisting in the U.S. Army Reserves as a financial specialist satisfied this craving. He attended Basic Combat Training and Advanced Individual Training at Fort Jackson and upon graduation was assigned to Detachment 7 of the 376th Financial Management Company in Whitehall, Ohio.
“I don’t think he would have done anything different,” Randi Pearson said. “I think the decisions he made to join were good.”
Cpl. Pearson deployed with his unit late August of 2007 to Camp Victory in Baghdad. On that fateful October day, Cpl. Pearson was working near the Coalition Headquarters when it came under a rocket attack.
“It happened towards the evening chow time,” said Maj. Paul Whisman, Cpl. Pearson’s platoon leader at the time. “It happened so quickly, pure chaos.”
Roughly 40 Soldiers were injured during the attack. Cpl. Pearson along with another soldier were killed in action and the lives of two families would forever be changed.
“Mr. and Mrs. Pearson, family and friends, please realize that Sam did not die in vain,” Hoerner said. “For his service, commitment, loyalty and sacrifice, he had the guts to say ‘Pick me. I will go.’ (He) serves as an inspiration to all Soldiers.”
The Pearson Family watched with pride as the plaque was uncovered while three other Soldiers worked silently in unison to unveil the facility’s road signage and a smaller plaque that rests at the base of a living tree in full-bloom with small white flowers.
“You’re never forgotten, you’re never lost,” Whisman said. “It’s truly an honor to be a part of this.”