On its way from the state of Oregon to Washington DC, the organization Tribute to Fallen Soldiers stopped Sunday July 21 near the gazebo in Liberty Park dedicated to the memory of Sun Prairie’s Joshua Scott and made a presentation to the Scott Family.
The delegation, which contains motorcycles as part of its 4,000-mile journey, thundered its way along Tara Drive, carrying with it a trailer with a burning flame.
“It’s wonderful to come into a community and see this much love and support,” remarked Tribute to Our Fallen Soldiers Executive Director Warren Williamson, who made the presentation to the family.
“It always makes us feel good because we traveled so many miles and we’ve come to visits like this where only one or two people have shown up and it kind of depresses us a little bit — maybe one or two family members there to be part of something like this.”
The crowd of about 75 family and friends of the Scotts — including Mayor Paul Esser, State 46th Assembly Rep. Gary Hebl and State Senator Mark Miller – were on hand to help support the family.
Williamson explained that a week ago, Tribute to Fallen Soldiers lit the memorial flame in memory of Army Staff Sgt. Kyle Eggers, who was killed in 2009 serving his country.
“His wife Jennifer and her three boys were there and they lit the memorial flame during our opening ceremony,” Williamson recalled. “It was our promise to Jennifer and her three boys as we made this trip across the country that we would guard and honor and protect the memorial flame just like we would if we were escorting Kyle or just like we would if we were escorting Joshua.”
The flame, which is always guarded even when the trip stops for the night, is kept lit for the entire 22-day journey.
“Two weeks from today, when we get to Arlington National Cemetery in Washington D.C., we’ll take the memorial flame inside of Arlington to the 9/11 memorial and we will hold our closing ceremony and at that time we’ll extinguish the memorial flame,” Williamson said, “and we’ll do that in memory of all fallen service members, including the 400,000 that currently rest inside of Arlington. After that, we’ll ring the memorial bell 65 times — one each for the 65 fallen service members that we’re honoring on this journey. And every time we ring the bell, we will say the name of that soldier out loud. So, Joshua will have his name said out loud inside of Arlington when we ring the bell.”
Williamson read something about Scott that summarized his service: Army Chief Warrant Officer 2 Joshua M. Scott of Sun Prairie was assigned to the First Squadron 17th Cavalry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Scott died May 27, 2005 when the OH-58 Kiowa helicopter he was flying crashed in Beriz Iraq after being attacked with small arms fire by enemy forces. Scott, a 1995 graduate of Sun Prairie High School, enlisted in the Army immediately after high school.
“Melissa Scott, a younger sister, recalled watching her brother build forts and play Army games as a child,” Williamson read to the assembled crowd. “This is what he wanted to do even before he knew about it.”
Williamson also read about Scott’s family life.
“He had the ability to be tough as nails at work and when he came home, he was a Marshmallow Dad. He loved his family more than he loved his work,” Williamson read.
But he was also a leader, according to Williamson.
“Joshua was a leader’s dream who had a passion that inspired others to follow his example — people just gleaned confidence from him,” Williamson read. “He was a rare breed, a very rare breed. Sherri says Joshua tried to shield her from the dangers of serving in Iraq, but after nearly 10 years in the military, he was excited about getting his first chance at active combat. He was very proud to serve his country. He felt like this was finally his opportunity.”
Williamson read an email from a Tacoma, Wash. soldier who served with Scott.
“When Chief Scott and Chief Lowery came into our forward area rearmament refueling point, we knew they were coming and, went to the dining facility to get them a plate of food so that they could eat before they flew out into sector again,” Williamson read. “This was a normal routine for us and we knew that the pilots were hungry while out on their missions.
“I knew them quite well and always tried to take care of them when they put down. When they went down, we were the first to know and were the ones to notify the extraction team to pull them from the crash site before the enemy had a chance to arrive there,” Williamson read from the email.
“I and Sergeant Corel were the ones who went to the mortuary affairs building and processed their personal effects, the pictures of their loved ones close to their hearts in their flight suits,” Williamson continued.
“There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think of those two heroes and how kind and friendly they were to us at all times, how we would sit back, share stories for 20 or 30 minutes and just hang out,” Williamson added. “They were great men, brave men and gave all for the freedoms that we all enjoy today. So, I write this with a heavy heart, full of pride and respect, for I know within my heart and soul they are never forgotten.”
Williamson presented a plaque with Scott’s information on it to Sherri, as well as a canvas photo of her husband. The family also signed a flag that other families had signed which will be displayed at Arlington National Cemetery during the time Tribute to Fallen Soldiers is at the cemetery.