Saturday, May 28, 2011

1st Lt. Robert Burton LeCates (1945-1971)

It was forty years ago that Robert Burton LeCates died in a country few had ever heard of when he was growing up in Florence. Bob, as his family and friends called him, was a graduate of Kilby Training School, Appleby Junior High School, Coffee High School, and Florence State College. He was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant upon his graduation from college and married Martha Paulette Smith in 1968.

By 1971, the war in Vietnam was supposedly winding down, but that fact offered no immunity for those who still served there. On Wednesday May 26, 1971, the Army listed the 25 year-old LeCates as missing in action since May 21st. The next day the Defense Department changed his status to killed in action.

Besides his wife, he left behind his parents, three grandparents, and two siblings--plus countless others whose lives he had touched. His funeral was conducted on June 3, 1971, at Jackson Heights Church of Christ followed by interment at Oakwood Cemetery in Sheffield.

Now forty years later, almost to a day, do we still remember 1st Lt. Robert Burton LeCates? If not, we should. This Memorial Day, let's make it a point to take time out from our holiday activities to remember Lt. LeCates...and all those who gave their lives that freedom might live.

Related post: Sammy Coker