|LCpl. Bradley M. Faircloth
United States Marine Corps
KIA November 26, 2004
Marine’s last wish granted at former high school
MOBILE, Ala. — One of Marine Lance Cpl. Bradley Michael Faircloth’s last wishes before his death in Iraq
will be granted when a half-ton bronze panther is placed outside Murphy High School.
Awarded three Purple Hearts, Faircloth’s battlefield death on Thanksgiving Day in 2004 fueled
contributions into a fund for a sculpture of the school mascot — a 2002 class project during his senior
Now it’s completed. An unveiling ceremony is set for April 14.
For Faircloth, 20, his football buddies were his family, said Kathleen Faircloth-Smith, the Marine’s
His coach, Bobby Curtis, now retired, said Thursday that he was scared to hear that Faircloth was going
to Iraq because he knew Faircloth would be “out front” in battle, just as he had been on the playing field.
“He worked hard at practice and always gave 100 percent,” Curtis said, displaying an engraved team
spirit award that hangs in the field house. The award bears Faircloth’s name.
After graduation, Faircloth spent a year on a partial scholarship at Delta State University in Mississippi
before joining the Marines.
Faircloth’s mother has been busy writing invitations for the ceremony to unveil the 8-foot-long, 4-foot-
high bronze sculpted by Cory Swindle of Fairhope.
Swindle said the panther, cast in his Barnwell studio in rural Baldwin County, is his biggest project. He
said it’s “sleek and mean-looking.”
It’s not a memorial to Faircloth, but his death accelerated the campaign that raised $35,000 to complete
it, Murphy principal Doug Estle said. The unveiling also marks the high school’s 80th anniversary.
A mix of patriotism and school spirit are expected to dominate the ceremony conducted by students.
The Class of 2002 raised $1,000 to kick off the panther project, which caught on with all the 2,500
students enrolled. Some pitched in with car-washes to make it a reality.
“I’m sure it’s going to heighten spirits for football and basketball,” said senior Shawanda Amos,
checking out the excavated site on Murphy’s front median where the panther will stand on a pedestal,
illuminated by landscape lighting.
Amos said she spent three years in ROTC and will think of Faircloth when she walks by the panther.
A classmate, junior Urcell Crawford, said the panther will become a place for students to rally.
“They usually gather by the flagpole,” he said.
Faircloth’s mother hopes some members of her son’s Marine unit can come to Mobile for the unveiling.
Stationed out of Camp Lejeune, N.C., Faircloth was a member of the 1st Battalion, 8th Marines, Alpha
Company, 3rd Platoon.
“I know God has given me a supernatural grace to get through all this. I’m turning the page knowing that
panther’s going up,” she said.
On Nov. 16, 2004 Faircloth was wounded in the face, then a week later in the leg before his death in
Fallujah on Thanksgiving Day. He was awarded three Purple Hearts for his injuries and death.
“On Bradley’s last week in Mobile, before he left, he said if anything happens to me make sure that
panther gets in at Murphy,” his mother said.
A friend has written a song, titled “Jersey 44” for Faircloth’s football number, recorded it in Nashville
and offered to perform it at the ceremony.
Faircloth-Smith, who works at a catering business, said she’s “totally surprised” that people still think
about her son over a year after his death.
“I’ve gotten letters from all over the country. I still get e-mails from people,” she said.
Speaking at Faircloth’s funeral, former classmate Gab Hargett said, “One of the last things Brad said to
me was, ‘I’m fighting for you.”’
— Garry Mitchell, Associated Press
This Memorial Page Established by-KATHLEEN FAIRCLOTH
In Honor Of LCPL BRADLEY M FAIRCLOTH
SORRY IT TOOK ME SO LONG TO DO THIS. SOMETIMES NOT FACING IT, HELPS ME
BELIEVE IT'S NOT REAL.
WELL I AM BEGINNING TO SEE YOU ARE NOT COMING HOME. I DO THINK THE
USMC TOOK YOUR BRAIN AND ARE BUILDING HUNDREDS JUST LIKE YOU. NO ONE
COULD EVER EXPLAIN THE CUT ON YOUR HEAD.
I MISS YOU EVERYDAY. I TALK TO YOU EVERYDAY. SURE WISH I COULD
REMEMBER EVER SECOND OF YOUR LIFE. AGE HAS A WAY OF MAKING THINGS DEM, FAID,
GET FURTHER AWAY FROM YOU. I AM AFRAID THAT ONEDAY I'LL FORGET. THAT
THE PAIN WILL BE GONE. THAT LIFE WILL KEEP GOING, ONLY THING, YOU
WON'T BE THERE. SUCKS!
WELL I MISS YOUR BAD ASS, NOT YOU GETTING INTO TROUBLE! I HAVE ENJOYED
HEARING ALL THE STORIES ABOUT THE CRAZY THINGS YOU DID WHILE YOU WHERE
HERE. YOU LIVED MORE THAN MOST PEOPLE DO IN 60 YEARS!
MAYBE YOUR KNEW IT WOULD BE A SHORT 20 INSTEAD..
YOUR NOT RIGHT MOM!