THOMSON - Standing in the sanctuary of Springfield Baptist Church, Thomson Mayor Bob Knox made a promise Wednesday afternoon not to letCommand Sgt. Maj. Jerry Wilson's "example and memory be forgotten."
Two memorial funds - one at SunTrust Bank in Thomson and one at First Bank in Thomson - have been established. The money will be used to create a community memorial to Command Sgt. Maj. Wilson, who was killed in Iraq on Sunday. He is the first soldier from McDuffie County to die in the Iraqi conflict.
"He was the epitome of a role model for us and especially for our young people," Mr. Knox said.
Residents, members of the media and friends of the Wilson family gathered Wednesday in the church the fallen soldier grew up in for a public briefing from the Rev. Fred Favors, Springfield Baptist's pastor and the family spokesman.
He read a prepared statement from the Wilson family, thanking their community, church and friends for the "expressions of sympathy, love and continued support" of their son, brother and father - a man most family members called "Sonny."
"He brought a little light to the lives of so many that he touched on this journey called life," the Rev. Favors read.
He also said the family had been comforted by dozens of phone calls from people across the nation who had served or knew Command Sgt. Maj. Wilson.
"When we can get a break from the press, we can get some of those calls in," the Rev. Favors said. "They are truly meaningful and helpful to the family."
Meanwhile, a community prayer service is scheduled for 10 a.m. today at Springfield Baptist.
Retired Army Gen. DeWayne Patrick, who will participate in today's prayer service, said Command Sgt. Maj. Wilson's rise to the Army's second-highest rank for an enlisted soldier is an impressive accomplishment.
He said only a select few rise to the rank of command sergeant major.
"That doesn't happen to just everybody," he said.