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Remembering heroes on Memorial Day

POSTED: May 23, 2013 8:01 p.m.
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PFC Louie Kight, serving with the 1st Cavalry Division, was killed in action in Korea in January 1951.

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As Memorial Day weekend approaches, it is a time to honor our soldiers who are fighting today for our freedom in many areas of the world. Their families are sacrificing to preserve freedom for each of us. We should be in prayer for them and pray that their loved ones return safe and sound. It is also a time to remember those who have fallen in the line of duty.


Soldiers from the Civil War, World War I, World War II, Korea and Vietnam precede the current enlisted personnel serving more recently in the Gulf War and situations in Iraq and Afghanistan. In the early days a draft system called men to duty and many joined the armed forces prior to the call of the draft board. The draft is defined by Webster’s Dictionary in this context as the choosing or taking of persons for compulsory military service.


In my lifetime I have only known of voluntary armed service and women have come to hold positions in our military.


Large and small cities, towns and communities have contributed service members. Our own Effingham Veterans Park is a tribute to all who served and those who gave the ultimate sacrifice. It is a fitting tribute, however menial in view of all that has been given, for the brave men and women who have served our country.


The Kight family came to live and work in Effingham County in 1944. The late Mr. and Mrs. A. G. Kight had six children: Hilton Kight, Ruby K. Deloach, Iris K. Sikes, Louie Kight, Murray Kight and Oliff Kight. They were members of Springfield Baptist Church.


Shortly after Louie Kight graduated from Effingham Academy in 1948, he joined the Army through a special program consisting of one year service on active duty and five years of reserves. The draft was in force, and he felt it was the best thing to do.


He had served the year in the Army and had been released but was called up in the reserves. He left Springfield for a two-week refresher course in Texas and was promptly shipped out to Korea.


A month to the day of arrival, Louie was killed on Jan. 27, 1951, by machine gun fire by snipers against Chinese troops in an immensely cold environment with temperatures at times well below zero. Six weeks from home and his life was gone. A fellow soldier to Louie Kight, Dan Corbitt, came to see the family later on and explained the circumstances, offering Mrs. Kight comfort in that he was killed immediately from the gunfire.


The whole community went into mourning when word arrived that Louie had been killed in action. Siblings Murray and Ruby were working for the Herald and owner Hartridge Shearouse stopped production so they could spend time with their family. A memorial service was held at the church and later he was brought home for burial on Aug. 26, 1951. He was laid to rest in the Springfield Cemetery.


The Kight family placed a beautiful stained-glass window in the sanctuary of the Springfield Baptist Church in Louie’s memory. The window depicting “Jesus in the Garden” was relocated to First Baptist’s new church on the outskirts of Springfield some years ago and still holds a prominent place in remembrance of Louie Kight in the chancel today.


Louie was a good young man who died at 20 years of age. He was also a son, brother, uncle, cousin, grandson, nephew, church member, classmate and friend.  Louie had a future of hope and promise. His life was given for each of us to live with the freedoms we enjoy.


To this day his loss is great to his family, especially to his brother Murray, who was like his shadow.  They were very close and had done everything together growing up.


Louie was one of three males in my father’s graduation class of 11 and was also a very close friend of my father. The loss ran deep in the community. This family gave the ultimate sacrifice of a son in the fight for freedom in Korea.


Many from Effingham County have lost their lives, and Kight is just one of those we will remember on Memorial Day. Let us always remember that their sacrifice was for us and for our freedom. We are indeed blessed that soldiers like Louie Kight and many others loved their country and committed themselves to defend our freedom, even at the ultimate cost. Show your patriotism by taking time to pat a soldier on the back and thank those still living who have served our country and pray for the families who still mourn their losses.


This was written by Susan Exley of Historic Effingham Society with information from the Effingham Herald and Murray Kight. If you have photos, comments or information to share, contact Susan Exley at 754-6681 or email her at: susanexley@historiceffinghamsociety.org.

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