757 Junior Colts
Derrick Webb

Derrick Webb

Derrick is SOSA's chief content coordinator and has worked for the Chillicothe Gazette, the Portsmouth Daily Times and Eleven Warriors. He's a 13-time award-winning journalist, a self-proclaimed baseball purist, a suffering Bengals fan and has never met a stranger.

Post 757 Junior Colts honor fallen soldiers with commemorative jerseys

Post 757's Junior Colts played with heavy hearts on Wednesday.

Derrick Webb, Staff Writer

CHILLICOTHE — When Chillicothe Post 757’s Junior Colts took the field on Wednesday night, they did so with teary eyes and heavy hearts.

And without their own names on the back of their jerseys.

Replacing their regular uniforms were alternate green tops — an idea that one of the player’s moms, Heidi Patterson, had thought of when thinking about how her son’s group of ballplayers could honor those who make it possible to take the field in the first place.

“A friend of mine, and another player’s mom, Amy Cowden and I were discussing ways to honor veterans and make the boys think about their personal responsibility to pay respect and show good character,” Patterson said.

What the duo thought of not only honored our nation’s heroes, but it also made 757’s roster members take a step back and realize what really matters outside the lines.

That was evident when the boys first laid eyes on their new stitches, which included the American Legion logo on the left chest and the American Flag on the left shoulder. The back of the jersey had the soldier’s last name present and what conflict they lost their life in.

Heidi Patterson wrote letters to each of Post 757’s Junior Colts players, detailing what each soldier’s story was. This letter, penned to her son Nate Binegar, highlights a family relative, Frank D. Ruley, that fought and lost his life in World War II.
Submitted photo

“I was a little emotional [handing them out] and had to turn away from the boys a couple of times. I wrote them each a short note and added as much info on their soldier as I could find,” Patterson said. “There were a lot of somber smiles and they each thanked me afterwards and told me that they really liked it.”

Every letter that Patterson wrote started with the same paragraph, but then included research that she had done on the fallen soldier’s behalf. That’s where the heart-moving stories came into play.

One player’s jersey, that of Kaden Tyler’s, honored Corporal Robert Bray. 

Born in 1931, Bray was a Ross County resident until the time he enlisted on Nov. 11, 1948. While fighting in the Korean War, more specifically in the defense of Taejon, in the Republic of Korea, Bray was reported as Missing in Action on July 20, 1950.

Bray was classified as MIA until Dec. 31, 1953 when the Adjutant General issued PFC Bray a presumptive finding of death while issuing a backdated promotion to corporal. Bray was an unidentified casualty of the battle until August 2018 when the Department of Defense “approved a plan to disinter all 652 Korean War Unknowns from the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific.”

Shortly after that plan went into place, Cpl. Bray was identified and repatriated with full military honors.

At 88 years old, Cpl. Bray was laid to rest in Bainbridge Cemetery. On Wednesday, Kaden Tyler played with Cpl. Bray’s name on his back.

“The parents absolutely loved it,” Patterson said. “Each one told me how special that was and thanked me for doing that for their son and for our veterans. I’ve had so many people reach out to me to tell me about their family that served and how those family members insisted they thank me for doing this. ‘No, thank YOU,’ was my response.”

Another story that stood out in Patterson’s mind was one that belonged to a relative.

“After ordering the jerseys, I was really excited to share it with someone but I couldn’t tell the parents,” Patterson said. “So I called my dad. He asked me if I knew that his grandpa’s brother was killed in action on D-Day. I knew that, but didn’t know that he was a Ross County native. So I went back through the heartbreakingly long list of soldiers’ names and found Frank D. Ruley. I knew my son, Nate Binegar, had to wear his great, great, great uncle’s name on his jersey. My letter to Nate informed him of his relationship and he was really surprised and honored.”

All in all, there were 12 soldiers honored by local athletes and coaches, all of which were Ross County natives … and there’s more to come. Post 757’s senior team will also be honoring fallen soldiers with commemorative jerseys at a later date.

Representing Vietnam was Paul Harris, Charles Waller and Norman Pierre, representing the Korean War was Robert Bray and Carl Roberts, representing World War I was Harry Dawson, representing World War II was Frank Ruley, Joseph Hoffman, David Parks, Earl Storts and Henry Ward, and representing Operation Iraqi Freedom was Brad Clemmons.

“I’m so happy the community appreciated it,” Patterson said. “Dave Robertson at 757 helped me tremendously with lists of names from World War I and II, Korea, Vietnam and Operation Iraqi Freedom. Also, they paid for the jerseys along with junior team parent donations, even though they had no clue what they were donating to. I’m so glad the coaches all let me do this without questioning.”

Share this post