‘Truly our hero’

Published 9:54 am Monday, August 22, 2011

Travis Nelson, a native of Bratt, Fla., who has family in Escambia County, was killed while on patrol in Afghanistan Wednesday, his family said. He was 19 and had only been in the country for a month.

Travis Nelson had been dreaming of becoming a Marine since he was a little boy.

On Wednesday, just one month after he arrived in Marjah, Afghanistan, the 19-year-old Bratt, Fla., native was killed while on patrol.

Scott Nelson, Travis’ father, said his son knew the risks of serving but loved his country.

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Military officials have been in “constant contact” with the family since they received news of his death, Scott said.

“They told us he was on patrol in Marjah when he got into a small firearms fight,” he said. “He took a round to the hip, and he just didn’t make it.”

Funeral arrangements were not yet available. Scott said officials explained an autopsy report on Travis would be complete within four to seven days following Travis’ death.

“They came out (Friday) morning to discuss different options on handling things from this point,” Scott said. “After that report is done, they will be flying him back to Dover (Del.). It will be probably Tuesday or Wednesday of next week depending on flight conditions and that sort of thing.”

Although the family is grieving the loss of the Marine, Scott said there is also a sense of pride in what their son has sacrificed.

“He was amazing for an 19-year-old,” Scott said. “Travis’s life-long dream was to be a Marine — since he was a little boy.”

Scott said he discussed the consequences and the risks of joining the military with his son before he enlisted.

“He and I talked several hours for several days about the risks and odds,” Scott said. “His coming to me was, ‘I love my country, and I want to be there for my country. If that means I die for my country, I will.’”

According to his Facebook page, Travis was a 2010 graduate of Pace High School in Pace, Fla., and was engaged to be married to Madelyn Raye Cates. The page lists his favorite quote “I’ll carry this flag to the grave if I must. ‘Cause it’s a flag that I love and a flag that I trust.”

Friends began leaving comments on Travis’ Facebook page as early as Thursday.

“It has been an honor meeting you and have worked with you, You have such a wonderful spirit. You will be greatly missed. You are definitely a hero in my book. God Bless,” Sarah Kandace Godwin wrote.

Travis is the son of Scott and Beckie Sanspree Nelson of Bratt, Fla. He is the grandson of Louise Nelson of East Brewton.

Scott said the family is together to offer support to each other as they honor their fallen soldier.

“He is truly our hero,” Scott said. “He will be forever.”