By Lena Mitchell/NEMS Daily Journal
GLEN – Staff Sgt. Seth Ricketts was destined to be a soldier.
That he gave his life in service to his country while fighting in Afghanistan was the ultimate sacrifice to that destiny.
When people in Alcorn County remember the highly decorated soldier and paratrooper – son, husband, father, brother, student, employee, friend – the first thought is of someone who put God, family and his country ahead of himself.
“He was just a very family-oriented kid,” said Bill Ricketts, Seth’s father. “He liked to go out in the woods with his dad – hunting, walking, camping. He liked shooting, was just a regular ol’ guy.”
The idea of a military career was something that took root at an early age.
“He said he wanted to go into the military when he was about 8 years old,” Bill Ricketts said. “He signed up on Sept. 12, 2001, but he didn’t go to basic training until February because there were so many who joined after 9/11. He told me ‘Maybe if I’d already been in, I would have been able to do something to help my country – maybe it wouldn’t have happened.’”
Nevertheless, Seth Ricketts, 27, played his part in fighting the War on Terror.
When he died on Feb. 27, in Bala Murghab, Afghanistan, Ricketts was in his fifth combat deployment, twice to Iraq and three times to Afghanistan. According to Department of Defense information, he was killed when insurgents attacked his unit with small arms fire.
Ricketts became the first Northeast Mississippian to die while fighting in Afghanistan.
He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team of the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, N.C. After completing basic training at Fort Benning, Ga., he immediately entered paratrooper training at Fort Bragg, and was stationed there throughout his entire military service, his father said.
“What I want people to remember about him is that he was there for his men; he put them before himself in every situation,” Bill Ricketts said.
Even as a stockman at Gardners Supermarket in Corinth, prior to enlisting in the U.S. Army, Seth Ricketts showed his passion for military service, said store manager Henry Rinehart.
“He was just a good fellow, did his job, and I enjoyed working with him,” Rinehart said. “He was enthusiastic about things he liked to do like swords, games and going into the military.”
Rinehart said Seth Ricketts and his family attended the same church as the Rinehart family, and Seth was good friends with Rinehart’s daughter, Leigh Rinehart Glenn.
“This is so hard on that family, and we’re trying to do all we can to support them,” Rinehart said.
Seth Ricketts’ enthusiasm for sword fighting was an interest that he shared with his Gardners co-worker and friend, Bobby Allen, his “Brother of the Blade.”
“He was more than my friend, he was like my other brother,” said Allen, an aspiring artist.
“He told me that if I was afraid to get out there as an artist, he would put on a costume and have me sign it ‘so people can see what you’re capable of doing as an artist.’
“There was nothing he wouldn’t do in the service of friendship.”
Allen saw in his friend an unwavering sense of honor, a warrior who believed in what he was fighting for.
He also was the friend to whom the soldier confided these prophetic words: “If I die doing what I love, that’s the way I want to die.”
Contact Lena Mitchell at (662) 287-9822 or firstname.lastname@example.org.