Governor Lee Memorializes Fallen Service Member

Governor honors fallen Tennessean at annual Memorial Day Ceremony
Thursday, May 25, 2023 | 02:45pm

Nashville – Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee, Tennessee Department of Veterans Services Commissioner Tommy Baker, and Tennessee Military Department Adjutant General Brigadier General Warner A. Ross II paid tribute to one service member who gave the ultimate sacrifice during the state’s Memorial Day service Thursday afternoon. 

United States Marine Corps Corporal William R. Ragsdale of Nashville was killed in action on June 28, 1944, during the battle for Saipan, Mariana Islands, which began on June 15, 1944. Ragsdale was a member of Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 24th Marine Regiment, 4th Marine Division, which was part of the invasion force of the island of Saipan in a larger effort to capture the Mariana Islands from Japan. Ragsdale was initially reported as wounded in action and evacuated from Saipan on June 28. When he was unable to be found during the chaos surrounding the battle and its aftermath, his status was changed to missing in action and then later deceased.

Unknown remains of U.S. service members killed in the battle for Saipan were interred at the Manila American Cemetery in the Philippines. Historians with Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) were able to associate one set of these remains with Corporal Ragsdale. They were disinterred and accessioned into the DPAA laboratory in January 2020. Laboratory analysis and the totality of the circumstantial evidence available established these remains as those of Corporal Ragsdale. His remains were returned home on August 4, 2022. 

“Today, we honor the men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice to defend and protect our nation,” Lee said. “As we reflect on their service, may we never forget their courage to faithfully serve our country and secure the freedoms that we hold dear.”

“Today, as we take a moment to remember those who are no longer with us, let us express our heartfelt gratitude for their profound sacrifice—and extend our gratitude to their families, who have also borne the weight of that sacrifice,” said Baker. “Their sacrifice is recognized and appreciated not only by our state leaders, but also by every citizen for whom our brave heroes have sworn to protect and defend.” 

“For one day a year, our nation pauses to remember and honor those service members who gave their lives to protect the freedoms and liberties all Americans enjoy,” said Brig. Gen. Warner Ross, Tennessee’s Adjutant General. “They paid a price we can never repay. I encourage all Americans to stop for a moment today and remember these heroes in a way befitting their service.”