Commission honors local soldier, hero

Published 9:21 pm Wednesday, May 10, 2006

By By Mary-Allison Lancaster – Managing Editor
The Escambia County Commission Monday presented Gail Williams with a proclamation recognizing her son, Marine Cpl. Christopher Winchester, as a fallen hero of Escambia County.
Winchester died 10 months ago at the age of 23 while conducting combat operations during Operation Iraqi Freedom in Trebil, Iraq, near the Jordan border. The proclamation recognized Winchester as an individual who &#8220gave through ultimate sacrifice to promote democracy.”
Williams, who was present at Monday's meeting, accepted the proclamation and asked commissioners to find a way for Winchester, along with other soldiers who have died serving the United States, to be remembered for their honor and what they did for the country.
Williams said she had hoped her son's alma mater would do more to recognize him.
&#8220I am disappointed Flomaton High School hasn't done anything (to honor Winchester),” Williams said. &#8220He loved, absolutely loved baseball.”
Williams said she would attend a future Flomaton city council meeting to see what the town could do to honor her son. The meeting this week was canceled, Williams said.
Commissioner Larry White, whose district is in Flomaton, said he would speak with council members and get their input on finding the best place for a monument.
Williams owns It is Written, a Christian bookstore in Brewton. A memorial of her son is located inside the store. Williams invited commissioners, as well as the public, to venture inside the store to see the memorial.
In front of the Escambia County Courthouse, a monument displays the names of the 170 soldiers who have died in World War I, World War II, the Korean and Vietnam wars.
Mike Hanks, head of the Escambia County Veterans Administration office, said Tuesday that officials plan to erect another monument on the courthouse lawn but certain factors are delaying the plan.
In 1987, the total cost to purchase the monument and to place the names on a bronze plaque on the monument was $28,718.58. Hanks said the cost of the monument was around $10,000, and letters on the bronze plaque were $2 each.
The cost has dramatically gone up and the committee would have to have a great deal of funding, Hanks said.
Once hostility ends, Hanks said all the funds would be used in the future to recognize the most recent soldiers who have died. He said &#8220hopefully” the three soldiers will be the only ones whose names will be placed on the new monument.
Anyone interested in donating to the Veterans Memorial Committee can send a donation to Mike Hanks, donation for monument or marker at P.O. Box 796, Brewton, AL 36426.

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