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80 Years Ago

Archives 08-25-2004


War in Iraq claims life of another Overton soldier
Three injured when car crashes into Raceway
Unemployment rate down in state in July



War in Iraq claims life of another Overton soldier


The hearts of residents all over the county were torn last week to learn yet another Overton County soldier has died in battle in Iraq.

Marine Corporal Brad Preston McCormick, who would have turned 24 years-old October 1, was killed in an explosion on Thursday, Aug. 19 while he and others in a Humvee were on their way back to Fallujah from a mission nearby.

McCormick's parents, Keith, who is circulation manager for the Herald-Citizen newspaper out of Cookeville, and Gail, a teacher at Allons Elementary, as well as his younger brother, Blake, 13, learned of his death that day, when two Marine officers went to their Allons home to deliver the crushing news.

At the same time, two other Marine officers were on their way to give the news of McCormick's death to his wife, Courtney, whom he married last December. She is the daughter of Charles and Sharon Curtis of Rickman.

McCormick was born October 1, 1980, at Cookeville Regional Hospital. He had a happy childhood, and his mother remembers even when he was very little, he was very crafty with his tiny hands.

"He loved tinkering with things," she said. "I used to get so aggravated with him when he was little! He just loved taking things apart, then trying to put them back together. He loved doing things with his hands."

As he grew older, his love of taking things apart only to put them back together again did not change at all, but he also developed a love for the outdoors.

"He liked fishing and hunting,” his mother said, “and he liked to collect knives and guns as he got older, he liked riding his 4-wheeler, and he liked the golf course."

At 15 years-old, he worked at Hidden Valley Golf Course, where his mother said he still took things apart. Apparently, whenever a lawn mower or other machine tore up, McCormick was right there to see if he could fix the problem.

He attended Livingston Academy, where he was involved in 4-H, the Beta Club, and football, where he played for the Wildcats his first two years. He graduated in 1998.

Many will remember McCormick from the years he worked at Winningham Hardware.

"He liked the hardware store, making screens and cutting glass," Gail said.

While the hardware store was satisfying to him and supported him as he attended Tennessee Tech, he still had an urge to join the military.

"Beau said he's always talked about it," said Gail, referring to one of McCormick's best friends, Beau Johnson.

"Brad wanted to join the military at 17 and we wouldn't sign, no way. Then at 18 he said, ‘I can do it myself,' but we said no and told him to think about it a year. During that year, he would talk about it and I would say, ‘There's no sense in talking about it because you're not joining!'

"Then he came home one day in January (2000) and said, ‘I've joined.' It killed me. He had joined the Reserves."

Although McCormick did not sign up for active duty, his family was like most soldiers' families: concerned about the dangers involved, even on those rare occasions he might be called for duty.

He underwent specialized training at Camp Lejune in Parris Island, SC, then he went through officer training in Quantico, VA.

When he came back home, he continued his schooling at Tech, where he went on to graduate in 2003 with a bachelor's degree in Wildlife Biology.

He then became employed with Tennessee Farmers Insurance Claims Department.

Meanwhile, he and Courtney Curtis were reportedly discussing their future together. According to a family friend, their plans were to wed in the spring of 2004. The plans quickly changed, however, when he was activated for duty on December 10 last year. The couple wanted to be married before he left, so on December 20, they exchanged their vows in a military-style wedding.

They spent only a couple weeks as husband and wife before he left for Camp Pendleton, CA, for training on January 4.

The two were apart until Valentine's Day weekend, when she flew out to see him. She had no idea those few days in California would be the last she would ever spend with her new husband.

His unit left for Kuwait the Wednesday after Valentine's Day, stayed there a week, and by the end of February, they were in Iraq.

"I can tell you, while he was over there, he was ready to come home," his mother said. "He hated the place. He was proud of what he was doing, but he didn't like that environment. Of course, I'm sure none of them do; it's nothing pleasant. But he was proud of that branch of the military."

McCormick had told his family to expect him home in mid-October.

Last Thursday, though, after finishing an assignment to confiscate weapons, McCormick and a few others were on their way back to camp when an IED, or improvised explosive device, went off.

Although McCormick was the only casualty in the Jeep, the others were injured severely.

"The one driving lost one of his eyes," Gail said. "Brad was in the front, too. Another boy, it tore half of his arm off. Another one, it bruised him. Sgt. Smith said there were four with Brad, but now, I thought there were only three. Anyhow, we know of those three."

To the best of the family's knowledge, the tragedy happened around 3:17 a.m. Thursday morning in the United States Central Time Zone, at 12:17 p.m., 9 hours ahead, Iraqi time.

"Yeah, he had been in Fallujah all this time," his mother said, "and we thought – he was ready to come home in October – and we thought he'd be safe now."

His parents had last talked to him on July 30, the first day of school in Overton County, right before Gail was to leave for work.

"I was thinking, ‘Oh, I'm going to be late.' I didn't care though. I thought, ‘I'm getting ready to go to school, but I'm going to talk as long as he wants.' Because every time he would call, we would talk as long as he wanted to, and I wouldn't dare say I have to go. We told him, ‘You call early morning or late at night. Whenever.'"

The last time his wife had spoken to him was more recent, on August 17.

"He told her he had gotten some kind of Navy and Marine achievement award, and they kind of had a little ceremony for him," Keith said.

The awards were not McCormick's first, though. His family was proud of both times he received Marine of the Quarter status.

He had also mentioned to his wife that he was up for a promotion, to be a sergeant.

"He would have probably gotten his stripe before he got home," Keith said.

Promoted or not, he was still just as special to his family, especially to his younger brother, who looked up to him and admired him.

Gail recalled one time when Blake gave a 4-H speech about his big brother.

"At the end of the speech, Blake held Brad's picture up, and he said if he was like somebody he'd like to be like his brother."

Blake delivered the speech again at the county-wide 4-H speech contest in Livingston. "It was a real cute speech," Gail said.

Not only will relatives and close friends miss McCormick; he leaves behind two church families – the congregations of Allons Church of Christ, where he was a longtime member, and Netherland Church of Christ, which he began attending with his new bride.

Countless folks will remember him for his smile and his outgoing personality, as "he never met a stranger," his father said. "Everybody liked him."

His mother also described him as good natured and one who joked around all the time.

"He was my inspiration," Gail said. "We would tell him, ‘Brad, you are number one, our hero.'"

The McCormicks join in mourning with another Overton County family.

Brad McCormick's death comes only a few months after the shocking death of Marine Jeremiah Savage, who was the first soldier from Overton County to die while serving in the war. Savage lost his life on May 12, also from injuries sustained in an explosion.

In addition to being fellow Marines, McCormick and Savage were reportedly friends, and McCormick was said to be one of the last persons to speak to Savage before his death.

McCormick had told his family that he was looking forward to being back home, going back to work, and spending time with them. While they know he will never return and smile and joke again, they know his heart never left Overton County.

And the county's heart is shattered once again, as another light has gone out, leaving a very dark corner of sadness and void.

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Three injured when car crashes into Raceway

Three pedestrians were injured Wednesday, Aug. 18 when a car crashed into the Raceway gas station.

According to reports, Erich M. May, 81, of Fairfield Glade, put his 1998 Chrysler Cirrus into drive when he started to leave the gas pump and the car accelerated into the front of the building. Three customers were injured when the car plowed into the store lobby. Brad Scott, 29, of Livingston, was transported to Livingston Regional Hospital and underwent surgery.

Tammy Smith, 32, and Amy Webb, 37, both of Livingston, were also transported to LRH by Overton County Ambulance Service for treatment. A passenger in the car, Jeff May, 46, was apparently uninjured. Livingston Police Department Patrolman Kevin Phillips investigated the incident.

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Unemployment rate down in state in July

Tennessee's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for July was 4.5 percent, down 1.5 percentage points from July 2003 when the rate registered 6.0 percent, according to Labor & Workforce Development Commissioner James Neeley.

The rate remains the same as last month. Tennessee remains below the U.S. rate for July, which was 5.5 percent.

"The most promising number we see this month are the year-over-year figures in manufacturing," Neeley said. "That number has increased 2,300 jobs since last July, spurred particularly by very rapid growth in transportation equipment manufacturing. This is the first time in four years manufacturing jobs have increased in the year-over-year numbers.

"The year-over-year gains have been realized as monthly manufacturing employment has grown over three of the last four months."

Major employment increases from month-to-month happened in manufacturing, up 300 jobs. Retail trade, specifically, food and beverage stores, increased with 300 jobs. Month-to-month decreases followed normal patterns, with local government educational services losing 11,200 jobs for the month. Professional/business services declined 2,600. Leisure and hospitality dropped 1,700 jobs.

Year-to-year changes showed increases in trade/transportation/utilities, up 7,000 jobs; educational/health services, up 5,600. Decreases occurred in state government, down 900, and merchant wholesalers, gasoline stations, and information, each down 800.


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Overton County News
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