Veterans honored and a fallen hero remembered in Milford

Milford paid tribute to veterans during the annual Veterans Day Parade in downtown Milford Sunday, after which there was a special ceremony to remember Cpl. Jordan C. Pierson, who was killed in combat in 2006 in Iraq. He was 21 years old.

Pierson’s name was added to the memorial flagpole on the Milford green, which previously had 96 names etched in its base. Now there are 97 names.

Thomas Flowers, chairman of Milford’s Veterans, Ceremony and Parade Commission, explained to a gathering of residents and officials Sunday afternoon that the memorial flagpole is dedicated to “the brave men who paid the ultimate sacrifice” serving in World War II, Korea and Vietnam.

Since 1990, the United States has been involved in a number of conflicts, now collectively called the Global War on Terrorism, he explained. In May, the words “Global War on Terrorism” were added to the base of the flagpole, and next to those words the name of Milford’s Jordan Pierson.

“And it’s about time,” Flowers said.

Cpl. Jordan Christopher Pierson, son of Eric and Beverley True Pierson, was born on June 22, 1985 in St. Petersburg, Fla., Greg Smith, a past commander of the VFW Post in Milford told the crowd.

Pierson attended Live Oaks School and then Foran High School, graduating in 2003. He enlisted in the United States Marine Corps Reserves that July. Upon graduating Infantry Training Battalion in 2004, Pierson was named a rifleman.

“In 2006, while a full-time student at the University of Connecticut, he was called to deploy to Iraq with Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment, 4th Marine Division out of Plainville,” Smith said.

Pierson was wounded in May of 2006, and he received a purple heart for that injury. In July he was promoted to corporal. He was killed in combat on Friday, Aug. 25, 2006, in Fallujah, Al Anbar Province, Iraq.

The young Milford man was posthumously awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal. His other awards include the National Defense Service Medal, Iraqi Campaign Medal, Sea Service Deployment Ribbon, Combat Action Ribbon and Purple Heart with Gold Star.

Smith carried in his pocket a piece of paper that held the words a Marine wrote shortly after Pierson was killed.

“Cpl. Jordan Pierson had been a bright spot in his platoon, in a place that can take the softest of hearts into a void of darkness,” reads the message from 1st Sgt. Grainger. “Even when the gloom of combat reached deep in a man’s soul, Cpl. Pierson could bring the Marine back to a sense of purpose, a sense of why we were here, and that we were making a difference.”

Jordan’s father, Eric, explained that his son had a chance to go home before that fateful day, but he gave that spot to someone else. So on that day, instead of being safe at home, Jordan volunteered to lead a walking public relations patrol.

“The last thing he did was turn around to see that the rest of the team was where they were supposed to be,” Eric said.

“Jordan Pierson was a man,” his father said, indicating that all the names on the base of the flagpole are men who gave their lives for others.

Lt. Col. Christopher Graves attended Sunday’s service and spoke about Pierson, a man he said proved early on that he was a leader.

“On the day he was fallen,” Graves said to Eric and Beverley Pierson during Sunday’s ceremony, “he was leading from the front — so you should be very proud of your son.”

Pierson was honored Sunday, following the city’s annual Veterans Day Parade, which included high school bands, Milford civic groups, veterans, politicians and more.

Grand Marshal and keynote speaker Harold G. Murray Jr., a U.S. Naval Veteran who served from 1943 to 1946 — and a two-time commander for Post 196 in Milford — read a poem about the dash, that line between a person’s birthdate and death date on their tombstone.

“For it matters not, how much we own, the cars…the house…the cash. What matters is how we live and love and how we spend our dash,” goes the poem by Linda Ellis.

Check out photos from Sunday's parade below.

View images from the ceremony in honor of Cpl. Jordan Pierson below.