NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and First Lady Crissy Haslam joined Tennessee Department of Veterans Affairs Commissioner Many-Bears Grinder and Command Sergeant Major George Holland of the Tennessee Military Department to pay tribute to seven Tennesseans killed in action, including two soldiers previously missing in action for several decades.
Petty Officer 1st Class Aaron Carson Vaughn of Troy was killed in a helicopter crash with 29 other Americans including 22 Navy SEALs in Afghanistan on August 6, 2011. Grandparents Billy Sr. and Geneva Vaughn accepted the state’s memorial presentation on behalf of their grandson.
Lance Corporal Franklin Namon Watson of Vonore was killed while conducting combat operations in Helmand, Afghanistan on September 24, 2011. THP Sergeant Lowell Russell accepted the Tennessee Fallen Heroes Medal and the state’s memorial presentation on behalf of LCpl Watson. Since the age of 12, Sgt. Russell cared for Watson as his guardian and next of kin.
Specialist Marvin Phillips of Palmer was killed in a helicopter crash in Vietnam caused by small arms fire on September 26, 1966. Phillips body was not recovered until 2010 and he was positively identified in 2011. Phillips was laid to rest on September 26, 2011. James Earl Phillips accepted the state’s memorial presentation on behalf of his brother.
Captain Joshua Sean Lawrence of Nashville was killed when a rocket-propelled grenade hit his unit in Kandahar province, Afghanistan on October 8, 2011. Lawrence has posthumously been awarded the Tennessee Fallen Heroes Medal. Grandparents Glespie and Arthenia Noman received the state’s memorial presentation on behalf of their grandson.
Sergeant First Class Dennis Murray of Red Boiling Springs was killed by an improvised explosive device on November 21, 2011 in Kandahar province, Afghanistan. Murray has posthumously been awarded the Tennessee Fallen Heroes Medal. Wanda Maxey received the state’s memorial presentation on behalf of her son.
Private First Class Frank Primm Jennings of Parsons went missing in South Korea on April 25, 1951. Jennings’ remains were not returned to Decaturville until April 14, 2012. Dr. William Jennings received the state’s presentation on behalf of his brother.
Specialist Jason Edens was critically injured during an enemy attack on his unit in Laghman province in Afghanistan on April 15, 2012. On April 26, 2012, Edens died from his injuries in Bethesda, Maryland with his family by his side. Edens was posthumously awarded the Tennessee Fallen Heroes Medal. Ashley Edens received the state’s memorial presentation on behalf of her husband.
“Each and every Soldier, Marine, Sailor or Airman who gives his life for his state and his country deserves our respect, and we are grateful for their services and sacrifice,” Haslam said. “In honoring them, we should always remember these heroes left behind loved ones who deserve our support and compassion.”
“Members of the Armed Forces serve their state and country fully aware of the risk involved,” Grinder said. “As citizens we have a duty to publicly demonstrate our sorrow and gratitude to honor those who gave the ultimate sacrifice to secure our freedom.”
“It is indeed fitting that we take the time to recognize and remember these American heroes; these Tennesseans who were willing to leave their homes and families and make the ultimate sacrifice to protect the freedoms that we all enjoy,” Holland said.
The Tennessee Fallen Heroes Medal may be awarded on behalf of the people of the state of Tennessee to an individual serving on active duty who has been killed in action after July 1, 2011. Individuals eligible to receive the Tennessee Fallen Heroes Medal include active duty personnel who are legal residents of the state of Tennessee.