Fallen Marine’s Family: He Was Our Hero
August 20, 2011
Their world was shattered about noon Thursday at the Nelson home in Bratt as three men in military uniforms stood at the door.
“I just screamed and said no,” Beckie said Friday, just over 24 hours after she learned that her son, LCpl Travis Nelson, was shot and killed while conducting combat operations in in Helmand province, Afghanistan. “I just went to my knees and said don’t let them come in. I knew right away that he was gone.”
“He will always be our hero,” Scott Nelson said of their son.
Travis Nelson’s first love in his young life was fishing. At four years old, he would spend hours with relatives fishing on the Escambia River. No matter how old he got, he never gave up the love for a fishing pole and hook.
“He did not go to the beach to swim or watch the girls in their bathing suits,” Beckie said. “He loved to fish.”
He also loved playing baseball at Northwest Escambia’s Bradberry Park in Walnut Hill. “He couldn’t tie his shoes; he would trip on his shoelaces. But he sure could hit those home runs,” she said with a smile.
The Nelsons knew that Travis wanted a career in the military from a young age, and they supported him. At 14, he joined the Young Marines of Pensacola.
“We talked it out for hours, Scott said. “He wanted to serve his country. I was so proud that he had a direction in his life.”
Beckie Nelson, who served in the Navy, also supported Travis’ decision to join the Marines, but she encouraged him to go into avionics, not the infantry.
“I knew he would be safer in a plane than he would with a gun in his hand,” Beckie said.
Travis Nelson was set to marry Madeline Cates upon his return from Afghanistan. She moved to Bratt after he shipped out overseas, sleeping in his room. It made her feel closer to him.
The family last saw Travis on July 13 as he deployed for Afghanistan. Their last phone conversation was Monday as he requested items for a care package. That package still sits by the front door. It never made it to the mail.
Now the Nelsons, and Cates, await the return of Travis’ body from Afghanistan. His remains are scheduled to arrive at an Atmore funeral home mid-week. In the meantime, they work to comfort each other amongst family and friends.
And they’ve found great solace in the words of the community and complete strangers.
Beckie sat Friday afternoon in the middle her bed with a laptop, reading the scores of reader comments on a NorthEscambia.com story about Travis Nelson’s death.
“The support has been tremendous,” she said. “We want to thank everyone for their comments. When you read what they have say, especially the comments from complete strangers around the country, you know that what Travis did in 19 years was more than some people do in a lifetime.”
“He really was our hero.”
For an earlier story about the death of Travis Nelson and to read the comments mentioned in this story, click here.
Pictured: Scott and Beckie Nelson hold a photo of their fallen son, LCpl Travis Nelson, who died Thursday while serving in Afghanistan. NorthEscambia.com photos, click to enlarge.