Fallen soldier honored with highway dedication memorial

Published 12:08 am Friday, October 5, 2012

LAUREN WOOD / THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT — A portrait of Sgt. 1st Class Severin West Summers III stands on display while Doug McCallister of the VFW Post 9573 and American Legion Post 4 delivers the benediction during the highway dedication ceremony for Summers Thursday evening at the Community Chapel Church of God.

NATCHEZ — When you’re driving down the Sgt. 1st Class Severin West Summers III Memorial Highway in southern Adams County, take time to remember him, but be sure to remember to enjoy your life as well — that’s what he would have wanted.

So said Summers’ friend, Master Sgt. Shannon Lot, at the unveiling ceremony for the sign that will mark the memorial highway in honor of the fallen soldier.

Summers was killed Aug. 2, 2009, in Qole Gerdsar, Afghanistan, when insurgents attacked his vehicle with an improvised explosive

LAUREN WOOD / THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT — Members of the Summers family and city and county officials look at the replica of the highway sign that will stand along a portion of U.S. 61 South during the dedication ceremony for Sgt. 1st Class Severin West Summers III Thursday evening.

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A 20-year serviceman, Summers had volunteered to go to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. He had done a previous tour of duty in Afghanistan in 2006.

“Yes, Sev died in combat, but there is no other way he would have had it, except maybe falling out of a deer stand,” Lot said at the dedication, speaking on behalf of the Summers family.

While he could have been described as a superhuman soldier, Lot said Summers was the kind of person who cared about making a difference in the lives of people.

“There are countless stories of him standing up for others, going out of his way to help someone,” Lot said.

“I really want to convey to you guys how humbled I am to have walked one second in the shadow of such an awesome guy. He accomplished more in 43 years than the average man could hope to in 83.”

Summers’ widow, Tammy, said the family was honored that local and state officials had taken the steps to declare the stretch of U.S. 61 South from its intersection with Kingston Road to its intersection with Hutchins Landing Road a memorial highway in tribute to Summers.

“This is a wonderful way to honor such a great man,” she said. “The fact that people will drive down the road and remember his name is so important, because they forget about our soldiers, and (the soldiers) need to be remembered.”

Summers is also survived by three daughters, Jessica, Shelby and Sarah; his parents; three brothers and a sister.

The unveiling ceremony was at Community Chapel Church of God, and Community Chapel senior pastor the Rev. Bo Swilley served as master of ceremonies. Speaking of Summers, Swilley quoted the soldier’s favorite Bible verse, Isaiah 6:8, “And I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then I said, Here am I; send me.”

Like many servicemen and women before him, Summers answered a call, Swilley said.

“Because of that call we are able to sit in this safe, secure sanctuary to worship freely how we want to, to go about our lives, to know that all is well because someone is watching,” he said.

“Unfortunately, sometimes freedom comes at a cost, but those soldiers who answer that call don’t think about that cost. They say, ‘Here I am, send me.’”

Summers is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.