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GMC News

Mercer Loved America

Waycross Journal-Herald

The death of Sgt. Chad Mercer in Iraq has cast a pall over the upcoming Fourth of July festivities planned in Waycross and throughout much of the Journal-Herald\’s readership area. But if this fine young soldier could speak to us he would simply say, \”I was doing what I wanted to do.\”

As reported in Friday\’s Journal-Herald, the 25-year-old Army sniper told his father-in-law (Dudley Cole of Waycross) before leaving for Iraq, \”I\’m doing what I want to do. I\’m fighting for my babies\’ freedom.\”
W
here do we find such selfless men? What\’s more, why do such purpose-driven young men have to die when there are so many unfought battles ahead? Our nation could certainly use more young men like the late Sgt. Mercer.

According to a family friend, Chad died when he accidentally fell from a Bradley fighting vehicle which subsequently struck and killed him.

Chad was no stranger to strange lands. He served with the 48th Brigade of the Georgia Army National Guard when that unit was deployed to Bosnia-Herzegovina in 2001 as part of a NATO peacekeeping operation in that war-torn land.

It was there that Journal-Herald Editor Jack Williams III encountered him at a U.S. Army base camp near Tuzla, where Williams had journeyed as a guest of the Georgia Army National Guard in June 2001.

We didn\’t spend a lot of time together, Williams recalled. \”But I was immediately impressed with the sense of purpose that he and the other Waycross-area soldiers seemed to have for the peacekeeping mission in Bosnia,\” Williams said.

Chad was about 21 years old at the time, yet he behaved and conducted himself in a calm and deliberate manner typical of a much older man. Military training will do that to a person of character, and this young man appeared to be full of character and all the other desirable traits society values in a man. If he had survived and remained in the Army, he would\’ve become an officer. Of that there can be no doubt.

Chad told his mother- and father-in-law (Carol and Dudley Cole) that he planned to do just that when his unit returned home from active duty in Iraq. \”He told us that when he returned, he would re-enlist and would make a career of the military,\” Mrs. Cole said.

Chad leaves a wife, Pam, and three children, Alanna, 8; Amber, 5; and Gavin, 2; as well as his father and mother, Huey and Dorothy Mercer of Waycross. Our sincere and heart-felt condolences go out to each of you for the loss of your son, son-in-law, husband and father.

But Sgt. Mercer knew in his heart-of-hearts that \”freedom isn\’t free\” and can only be ensured by the blood and sacrifices of America\’s fighting men and women.

We salute Sgt. Mercer for his service to our country and for the ultimate sacrifice he made to ensure our freedoms in the War on Terror. May he rest in God\’s peace and enduring love.

*Chad Mercer was a 2000 graduate of Georgia Military College.