Edward Ralph Heselton – Sergeant, United States Army

NEWS RELEASE from the United States Department of Defense
No. 831-05

DoD Identifies Army Casualty

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.

Sergeant Edward R. Heselton, 23, of Easley, South Carolina, died on August 11, 2005, in Orgun-E, Afghanistan, when ordnance exploded near the vehicle he was driving as his unit performed a route clearing mission.  Heselton was assigned to the U.S. Army Reserve's 391st Engineer Battalion, 415th Chemical Brigade, Greenville, South Carolina.

COLUMBIA, SOUTH CAROLINA — An Army Reserve soldier from Greenville County has died while on duty in Afghanistan, the Department of Defense said Friday.

Sergeant Edward R. Heselton, 23, of Easley, was killed Thursday when an ordnance exploded near the vehicle he was driving with his unit on a route-clearing mission in Orgun-E, Afghanistan, the agency said in a release.


Heselton was assigned to the U.S. Army Reserve’s 391st Engineer Battalion, 415th Chemical Brigade, in Greenville. He was deployed to Afghanistan in April.

“He enjoyed being in the service,” his mother Becky Heselton said from her home in Greenville.

She said her son pursued a career as a mechanic after graduating from Berea High School in Greenville in 2000. He took classes at a nearby technical college and worked for a local company contracted to service military vehicles.

“He had a flare for it. He just had the touch. He seemed to have an instinctive knowledge of what was wrong with engines and how to fix them,” his mother said. “He just loved doing that, so that’s what he did for his job and that’s what he did in the military.”

Heselton said her son joined the Reserves for the “an opportunity to get some additional help with schooling and get sort of a jump-start on the training … through the Army and then build on that.”

Edward Heselton married his wife two years ago, and they have a 1-year-old daughter.

Soldier Remembered as Ready and Willing
Afghanistan Casualty Is Buried in Arlington

Yesterday, a soft breeze blew through the wreath of flowers next to the wooden coffin of Sergeant Edward Ralph Heselton as he was laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery.

Heselton, 23, was killed August 11, 2005, in Orgun-E, Afghanistan. According to his father, Verne Heselton, he had been driving a truck ahead of a convoy. Heselton, a mechanic, was headed to repair military vehicles needed to clear the way for building a road.


Melissa Heselton, wife of Sgt. Edward Ralph Heselton, receives a flag.The soldier's parents, Verne and Becky Heselton, are at right.

“He was the first one in line,” said his father, who attended yesterday's service with Heselton's mother, Becky. “A rocket was fired and hit the roof of the truck.”

Heselton, who was awarded a Purple Heart and Bronze Star, lived in Easley, South Carolina, with his wife, Melissa, and 13-month-old daughter, Meghan Nichole. He was assigned to the Army Reserve's 391st Engineer Battalion, 415th Chemical Brigade, based in Greenville, South Carolina.

Those who knew “Eddie” said he had a gift for fixing things. As a teenager, he passed a Navy enlistment test but later opted for the Army Reserve so he could have more experience working on equipment, his father said. In between technical college and Reserve training, he built a deck for his mobile home, overhauled the engine on his mother's car, helped his father revamp a 1962 Cadillac and welded together a small sculpture out of old vehicle parts.

“He was unbelievably good. Eddie could come in and fix things he didn't know how to fix in just two weeks,” recalled his father, who said he spent many happy hours tooling over the '62 Cadillac with his son. “If something was broken, people said, ‘Call Eddie, he'll know.' He was always helping somebody with something.”

Those who had worked with Heselton at a military maintenance center in Greenville said that in addition to having natural talent, he was eager to learn.

“He was always picking my brain about something,” said Bill McClellan, a retired master sergeant who worked with Heselton for about two years. McClellan, who specialized in communications and electronics, said that he often installed equipment in vehicles that Heselton was repairing and that the young man was especially hungry for knowledge about radios and computers.

“He was the kind of worker who went the extra mile,” McClellan said.

While Heselton was working at the sandwich shop where he met his future wife, he took time to repair the drains, his father said.

Heselton was born and raised in Greenville and graduated from Berea High School. He played trombone in the school band, said Principal Bill Roach, who was then an assistant principal.

As a student, Heselton stood out for his good behavior and dedication to the band, and his return to the school several years after graduation left a lasting impression. He returned to Berea High fresh from boot camp to help out backstage at a school pageant, setting up props and helping the performance run smoothly.

“He was a kid other kids could look up to,” McClellan said.

Heselton's unit was called up last fall, and by February, he was at Fort Bragg in North Carolina. After a brief leave to see his family, he was deployed to Afghanistan in April.

“If he believed in something, he was going to give you anything he had,” Roach said. “He gave everything when he was here.”


Melissa Heselton, left, widow of Army Sergeant Edward Heselton of Easley, South
Carolina  is escorted by Brigadier General Charles Luckey as Sergeant Heselton's
casket is carried to a grave site at Arlington National Cemetery, Friday, August 26, 2005


Melissa Heselton, widow of Army Sergeant Edward Heselton of Easley, South Carolina,
receives the flag which covered her husband's casket during a graveside ceremony
at Arlington National Cemetery Friday, Aug. 26, 2005.




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