Memorial honors fallen seaman and firefighter

Memorial honors fallen seaman and firefighter
Submitted by Kelly Harris

Friends and family gathered in Civil War Park for a ceremony of dedication and remembrance Monday (June 17) on the two-year anniversary of the passing of Fluvanna native Gunner’s Mate Seaman Dakota Kyle Rigsby, who died in service to his country.

Debbie Smith, Fluvanna County emergency management coordinator, welcomed approximately 50 guests to the dedication of a memorial plaque at the base of a persimmon tree planted in Seaman Rigsby’s honor. Board of Supervisors Chair Mike Sheridan provided historical context for the choice of a persimmon tree, noting that persimmon trees were once a point of local pride and could be seen throughout the county.

County Administrator Steve Nichols, recalling his own career in the U.S. Navy, highlighted the “attributes found in the many young men and women who wear the cloth of our nation,” noting that while he did not personally know Rigsby, he “knew many like him. He was dedicated to his family, to service, to his shipmates, and to our nation’s defense.”

Persimmon tree memorial honors Seaman Dakota Kyle Rigsby. Photo courtesy of Fluvanna County.

Before the unveiling of the plaque, Lake Monticello Fire Department Chief Richie Constantino offered heartfelt words: “I believe the best way we can properly acknowledge and thank Dakota for his sacrifice can be best described as remembrance. I know that the members of the fire department [remember] Dakota…when we enter the firehouse, we pass by Dakota’s gear locker, we see his firefighting gear hanging inside. His coat is hanging from the hanger, his boots inside his bunker pants, folded over. His helmet on the top shelf next to his baseball cap and the other personal items he left behind when he left for his naval duty. We remember Dakota.”

Rigsby died June 17, 2017, while serving aboard the USS Fitzgerald when it collided with a container ship off the coast of Japan. The persimmon tree planted in his honor and the plaque placed at its base are located in Civil War Park in the Village of Palmyra.

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