Haynie Wilson: 'Duty, honor country'

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As Veterans Day approaches, Reflections remembers the sacrifices of those who served in our country's military. This edition focuses on a young man whose life epitomized the youth of his era and their willingness to serve, protect and defend the ideals on which this nation was founded. Haynie M. Wilson was everyone's All-American in high school.

Wilson graduated from Sumter High School with the class of 1937. While attending school, he participated in the school's military program, serving as a major of his battalion. He was also president of his homeroom and the Block S Club. He was selected to serve as athletic editor of the Hi-Ways yearbook and was chosen as captain of the football team by his teammates. He was voted the most valuable player on the team and selected to the first team of South Carolina's All-State football team. He also served on a number of other clubs and committees while in high school.

After graduation, he attended what was then Clemson College. He married the former Miss Connie Stevens from Hartsville and later worked as an engineer for the Atlantic Coast Railroad before entering military service on June 29, 1944. He enlisted in the United States Marine Corps and was sent to Parris Island to complete his basic training before being sent to Camp Lejeune and Camp Pendleton before he was sent overseas in November of 1944.

Wilson was reported killed in action on March 11, 1945, while participating in the conflict on Iwo Jima, one of the largest and most costly battles undertaken by the Marine Corps. The conflict involved about 110,000 Marines, Army, Navy corpsmen and Army Air Corps who suffered 6,821 killed and 19,217 wounded during the five-week battle (Feb. 19, 1945 - March 26, 1945). The "five-week battle, comprised some of the fiercest fighting of the Pacific War Theater during World War II."

Wilson's remains were returned to Sumter, and services were held at Shelley-Brunson Funeral home on April 18, 1948. Interment followed in Sumter Cemetery with full military honors. His commitment to service and bravery in action has brought honor to his community and nation.

The photos and articles used to create this article were taken from The Sumter Item archives and the 1937 Sumter High yearbook.

Reach Sumter Item Archivist Sammy Way at waysammy@yahoo.com or (803) 774-1294.