Monday, September 21, 2015

BUCKET LIST UPDATE No. 235: Visit the grave of William Wayne Seay in Brewton

Sgt. William Wayne Seay's grave near Brewton, Ala.
One of the most highly decorated soldiers to ever come out of Southwest Alabama was William Wayne Seay, who was from Brewton, Ala. Seay, who was only 19 years old at the time of his death, received the Medal of Honor posthumously for his actions during the Vietnam War.

Seay was died in August 1968, that is, years before I was born, but I’ve always wanted to pay him my respects by making a personal visit to his grave. I put this trip on my bucket list several years ago and finally scratched it off the list on Sunday afternoon when my son and I visited Seay’s grave while in the vicinity geocaching.

As many of you may know, Seay received the Medal of Honor for his actions near Ap Nhi, Republic of Vietnam on Aug. 25, 1968 when he was an Army sergeant in the 62nd Transportation Co. (Medium Truck), 7th Transportation Battalion, 48th Transportation Group. What follows is the complete text from his Medal of Honor citation:

“For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. Sgt. Seay distinguished himself while serving as a driver with the 62d Transportation Company, on a resupply mission. The convoy with which he was traveling, carrying critically needed ammunition and supplies from Long Binh to Tay Ninh, was ambushed by a reinforced battalion of the North Vietnamese Army. 

"As the main elements of the convoy entered the ambush killing zone, they were struck by intense rocket, machinegun and automatic weapon fire from the well concealed and entrenched enemy force. When his convoy was forced to stop, Sgt. Seay immediately dismounted and took a defensive position behind the wheels of a vehicle loaded with high-explosive ammunition. As the violent North Vietnamese assault approached to within 10 meters of the road, Sgt. Seay opened fire, killing 2 of the enemy. 

"He then spotted a sniper in a tree approximately 75 meters to his front and killed him. When an enemy grenade was thrown under an ammunition trailer near his position, without regard for his own safety he left his protective cover, exposing himself to intense enemy fire, picked up the grenade, and threw it back to the North Vietnamese position, killing 4 more of the enemy and saving the lives of the men around him. 

"Another enemy grenade landed approximately 3 meters from Sgt. Seay's position. Again Sgt. Seay left his covered position and threw the armed grenade back upon the assaulting enemy. After returning to his position he was painfully wounded in the right wrist; however, Sgt. Seay continued to give encouragement and direction to his fellow soldiers. 

"After moving to the relative cover of a shallow ditch, he detected 3 enemy soldiers who had penetrated the position and were preparing to fire on his comrades. Although weak from loss of blood and with his right hand immobilized, Sgt. Seay stood up and fired his rifle with his left hand, killing all 3 and saving the lives of the other men in his location. As a result of his heroic action, Sgt. Seay was mortally wounded by a sniper's bullet. Sgt. Seay, by his gallantry in action at the cost of his life, has reflected great credit upon himself, his unit, and the U.S. Army.”

If you’d like to visit Seay’s grave for yourself, it’s not hard to find. From Interstate Highway 65 in Conecuh County, Ala., take Exit 83 and turn east onto Conecuh County Road 6. From there, drive east a few miles until you reach Appleton Road, then turn right onto Appleton Road and travel south towards Brewton.

From County Road 6, drive 11.1 miles south until you arrive at the Macedonia Independent Holiness Church, which is located just a short walk north of the Weaver Cemetery, where Seay is buried. Seay’s grave isn’t hard to find as it’s very close to the highway and set apart by a large American flag on a tall flagpole.

When you get there, you’ll notice that Seay’s grave includes a regular headstone and two other markers. His headstone reads “Sgt. William W. Seay - October 24, 1948 – August 25, 1968 – Gone, But Not Forgotten – Killed in Vietnam.”

Two other markers are located at the foot of his grave. The larger of the two reads, “In Memory Of Sgt. William W. Seay, 1st Corps Support Command, Fort Bragg, N.C. Sgt. Seay Gave His Life For His Country Aug. 25, 1968. He Served In The 62nd Transportation Co., 7th Trans. Battalion, 48th Trans. Group, Resuppling Missions Near Ap Nhi, Republic Of Vietnam. On April 7, 1970 He Received The Medal Of Honor Certificate, Posthumously, From President Richard Nixon. Seay Field Was Also Dedicated In His Honor At Fort Bragg, N.C. On Nov. 10, 1983.”

The third marker at Seay’s grave, which appears to be made of bronze, reads as follows, “William Wayne Seay, Medal of Honor, SGT U.S. Army, Vietnam, Oct. 24, 1948 – Aug. 25, 1968, Purple Heart.”

In the end, how many of you have ever visited the grave of William Wayne Seay? What did you think about it? Do you know of any other historic graves worth visiting? Let us know in the comments section below.

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