Service held in Nashville to honor fallen soldiers ahead of Memorial Day

(Photo: WKRN)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – With the Memorial Day weekend just ahead, Governor Bill Haslam reminded people today to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice.

Each year, he leads a service in the long tradition of governors paying tribute to fallen soldiers from across Tennessee.

As in past years, a magnificently large flag highlighted the service at War Memorial plaza on Tennessee’s Capitol Hill.

Seated in front of it were some of the family members from five soldiers who died while serving their country.

(Photo: WKRN)

Those honored included one soldier who died nearly 75 years ago and another who lost his life just last month.

U.S. Army Sergeant Bailey Keeton of Oneida was presumably killed on December 2, 1950 during the Korean War, but his remains were not identified until 2015. He was 20 years old when he was listed as missing in action after fighting along the eastern banks of the Chosin Reservoir. He was laid to rest on June 25, 2016.

U.S. Army Private Evans Overbey of Elizabethton died on November 19, 1942 from malnutrition and medical neglect while in the prisoner of war camp hospital in the Philippines. He was buried in a common grave in the camp cemetery at the age of 25, but he was not identified until 2015 and laid to rest on July 15, 2016.

U.S. Army Private First Class William Cowan of White House died as a prisoner of war (POW) at Camp 1 in Changsong, North Korea in May, 1951, but was not identified until 2016 and was laid to rest on November 19, 2016. He was 19 years old when he was listed missing in action while fighting in the Korean War.

U.S. Army Specialist Jeremy Tomlin of Chapel Hill was killed on April 17, 2017 in a UH-30 Black Hawk helicopter crash in Leonardtown, Maryland. The 22-year-old Middle Tennessee native was working as a crew chief on a training mission at the time of the crash. Tomlin served nearly five years in the United States Army and graduated from Community High School in Unionville.

U.S. Marine Corps Sergeant Kevin Balduf of Nashville was killed in action on May 12, 2011 when a member of the Afghan National Civil Order Police shot and killed Balduf and another Marine in Helmand Province, Afghanistan. The 27-year-old was serving in his second deployment in Afghanistan and also previously deployed to Iraq. Parents, Virginia Newsom and Clifford Balduf received the Gold Star Family Proclamation in recognition of their loss.

(Photo: WKRN)

Tennessee Veteran’s Services Commissioner Many-Bears Grinder told the families how she too is a Gold Star family member who lost a soldier

“I know the pain of loss comes in waves, but during those waves i hope that you Gold Star family members know we stand with you, that we are here with you,” said the commissioner.

Kevin Balduf told News 2 about his heroic twin brother Kevin.

The Marine died in 2011 on his second deployment to Afghanistan after receiving a bronze star during his first.

“All of his Marine buddies talked about what a good leader he was,” said Kevin. “How he helped them with family problems, problems with the military. Just a genuine caring guy who care more for others than himself

It is just one of the many stories to remember said Governor Haslam “as we head into the Memorial Day weekend.”