Army Aviation

American Flags on Memorial Day

memorialdayMay 25, 2017
Story by Staff Sgt. Ken Scar
335th Signal Command (Theater)

Volunteers gathered in Clemson University’s Memorial Park Thursday, May 25 to place 489 flags on the Scroll of Honor – one for every Clemson alumnus who gave the ultimate sacrifice for our country – in preparation for Memorial Day observances.

The Scroll of Honor is grass-topped barrow ringed with stones engraved with the names of each Clemson alumnus who gave their lives in service to their country. It sits in Memorial Park, which is located across the street from the Clemson Tigers’ 81,000-seat Memorial Stadium. To date, 491 alumni have been identified who were killed from WWI through the current wars in Afghanistan and Iraq

As is his custom, 99-year-old retired U.S. Army Col. Ben Skardon, a Bataan Death March survivor, placed flags on the stones of Henry Leitner and Otis Morgan, two fellow Clemson alums who saved his life while they were all prisoners of war.

Two names will be added to the Scroll in a Memorial Day Celebration in Memorial Park, May 28th at 4:00 p.m.

Charles Carroll Biggerstaff, class of 1920, and Theodore Williams Gaines, class of 1909, were identified as qualifying for the Scroll through research by U.S. Air Force Major Brock Lusk of the University’s Department of Aerospace Studies.

Biggerstaff, of Rowesville, South Carolina, left Clemson College in January 1918 and joined the Army’s Aviation Corps. He was commissioned a second lieutenant in November of that year and was discharged from the service in 1919. He enlisted with the air service in December 1920. In July 1921, while stationed at Langley Field, Virginia, he was killed when he was struck by a moving aircraft propeller.

Gaines, of Greenwood, was drafted into the South Carolina National Guard as a first lieutenant in August 1917. He served at Camp Eustis, Virginia and Fort Moultrie, South Carolina before shipping to France. He was promoted to captain in October 1918 while serving as a member of the American Expeditionary Forces. He was killed by an accidental pistol discharge in December 1918.

Biggerstaff and Gaines were approved for inclusion on the University’s Scroll of Honor after a thorough vetting process conducted by members of the Clemson Corps, a constituent group of the Clemson Alumni Association, which maintains the Scroll.

With these latest additions, the Scroll of Honor now lists 491 Clemson alumni killed while serving in the United States military.

The ceremony will also feature the placing of a wreath, the playing of Taps, a tribute to South Carolina Gold Star families, and recognition of the 100th anniversary of Clemson’s class of 1917 – all of whom volunteered to serve in WWI.