By Steve Pivnick
A family that knows the sorrow of losing a military member to combat has turned their grief into support for the nation's military and, in particular, the Keesler Fisher House. June 13, Bill and Sandi Ricketts, joined by their son and daughter and representatives of The American Legion Riders Post 6 from Corinth, Miss., in the northeast part of the state, not only donated almost $4,000 to Keesler's Fisher House, they also provided a barbecue dinner for the facility's residents.
Their son, Army Staff Sgt. Seth Ricketts, was killed in action Feb. 27, 2010, in Bala Murghab, Afghanistan. A member of the 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, N.C., he was serving on his third Afghanistan deployment -- his fifth in all, including two others to Iraq. He left his pregnant wife and two children.
Brig. Gen. Andrew Mueller, 81st Training Wing commander, and Larry Vetter, Fisher House manager, accepted the $3,800 in donations from the Staff Sgt. William Seth Ricketts Memorial Fund and American Legion Post 6 Riders. The donations were collected during the first memorial motorcycle ride and other events held in Seth's memory April 30. Future events will be held the third Saturday in April each year.
Others on hand for the presentation were Randy and Ann Mullins and Seth's brother Ben and sister Tiffany. Randy Mullins is director of the Corinth post riders.
They also donated two items to the Keesler facility: a framed inaugural rocker with annual patch and a card Tiffany made by hand signed by all the memorial run riders. Mrs. Ricketts said Seth had wanted to join the military since he was very young. In fact, he had spoken to Army recruiters several times. Although he received a scholarship to attend college, he found college life wasn't for him. Then came the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
"Seth came home after 9/11. I knew from the look in his eyes he was going to enlist. He didn't look back; he enlisted the next day." She continued, "Seth reenlisted during his fourth deployment to Afghanistan."
His parents mentioned he was extremely proud of his combat jump wings, earned in 2003 following a combat jump in Afghanistan -- only the second combat jump by the 82nd Airborne since World War II, they said. They mentioned he also had received German Army jump wings. Mrs. Ricketts recalled that Seth and Bill planned to buy motorcycles and ride with the Patriot Guard Riders, whose members attend funeral services of fallen American heroes as invited guests of the family and shield the family and their friends from interruptions created by protestors.
Commenting on their desire to help the Fisher House, Mrs. Ricketts said, "We believe in the Fisher House. I never heard of it, or the Gold Star Mothers (mothers who have lost a son or daughter during service to the country) until Seth was killed.
Seth was the first military member from our area to be killed in action. We want to take the negative circumstance and turn it into something positive because of the amazing support we've received from the Corinth community. In fact, we left for Keesler right after a section of State Highway 72 had been named after Seth.
"We were surprised that more people aren't aware of Fisher House. Our Gold Star Mothers are involved in raising money to hopefully add a wing to the Keesler Fisher House," she added. "People like me just assumed all our wounded warriors are taken care of but that's not always the case. That's where the Fisher House comes in."
"Holidays, birthdays & anniversaries have been celebrated with tears and smiles with people who truly understand what the other person is experiencing."
- Kamryn Jaroszewski