On Aug. 12, 2014, our Heavenly Father welcomed a new soldier into his ranks when Sgt. First Class Samuel C. Hairston, a decorated military veteran of 11 years, gave his life in Ghazni Afghanistan after sustaining wounds from small arms fire.
Sam was born to Bernette and Josephine Hairston in Shaw Air Force Base, S.C. on June 22, 1979. Raised in Shalimar, Fla., Sam graduated from Choctawhatchee High School in 1997. He went on to pursue a Division 1 Football Scholarship at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelors Degree in Economics.
In 2003, he joined the United States Army as an infantryman. Hairston selflessly served four combat tours throughout his career which included two tours in support of both Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. A decorated service member, Sgt. First Class Hairston earned the Parachutist, Pathfinder, Combat Infantryman and Halo Badges as well as the coveted Ranger Tab. Throughout his career he was awarded the Bronze Star Medal, Purple Heart Medal, Meritorious Service Medal, Army Commendation Medal with three oak leaf clusters, Army Achievement Medal, Meritorious Unit Citation with two oak leaf clusters, Army Good Conduct Medal with two oak leaf clusters, the National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal with two Campaign Stars, Iraqi Campaign Medal with two Campaign Stars, the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal and the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal.
On April 2, 2010, Sam "Sammy Bear" changed the life of his "Sugarbritches," Tawana Hairston, forever, and made her his wife. Together they raised their son, Hayden Motes. He was a loving, caring, devoted, God fearing husband and father.
Sgt. First Class Hairston was a natural born leader. He was admired by many, both military and civilian. He was the man that would get things done, always placing the mission first and never expecting anything in return. He took pride in all he did and would have dropped everything to help anyone in need. Sam had a smile that would light up the room and will forever be remembered by everyone who was blessed to have had him in their life.
He gave his life the same way he lived it, selflessly taking care of his family.
He is survived by his wife, Tawana Hairston; and son, Hayden Motes of Cameron, N.C.; parents, Bernette and Josephine Hairston of Shalimar; brothers, Junee Cardama of Crestview, Fla., Broady Hairston of Lexington Park, Md. and T.J Hairston of Shalimar.
Sgt. First Class Hairston's viewing will be Saturday, Aug. 23, 2014, from 1500hrs to 1900hrs and Funeral services will be Sunday Aug. 24, 2014, at 1000hrs. All services will be held at Emerald Coast Funeral Home, 113 Racetrack Road, N.E. Fort Walton Beach, FL 32547. Sam will be laid to rest in Beal Memorial Cemetery, 316 Beal Pkwy NW, Fort Walton Beach, FL 32548.
"My son, my son, where have you gone,
Off to war never to return.
My son, my son, where are you now,
No longer in danger, you are one of God's Angels
Fight on my son, in the army of the Lord,
Carry high your Honor,
Carry high your Sword.
I love you my son".
Expressions of love and sympathy may be viewed online at www.emeraldcoastfuneralhome.com.
Emerald Coast Funeral Home
161 Racetrack Rd NW
Fort Walton Beach, FL 32547
Published Online in Northwest Florida Daily News from Aug. 21 to Aug. 22, 2014