TUNICA, MS (abc24.com) - It's been a year since Tunica lost one of it's own. 20-year-old Private First Class William Brandon Dawson was killed in Afghanistan on September 24, 2010. He was the first soldier from Tunica killed in action in 50 years. Dawson was driving the lead truck in a convoy when it rolled over an explosive. Now Dawson's family is making sure his memory lives on.
"There's a saying, gone but not forgotten," said his mother Quita Dawson.
Her son's no longer with her, but she thinks of him every day, telling him she's proud of him and of his sacrifice. Dawson was only in the Army for a year before his death. In that short time he collected more than 20 medals. Almost all are now being displayed at the Tunica museum in a special exhibit dedicated to Dawson.
"This is his military career when you see this," said his brother Joseph.
His bronze star, a purple heart and good conduct medals have been put on display, along with his dress uniform and a special picture his mother hoped never to see.
"They call it the death picture," Dawson told abc24.com.
It's taken at the beginning of a soldier's career and only used after their death. Dawson's name is also on the museum's wall of veterans, along with his uncle and grandfather.
"You see a lot of people," said Joseph. "But there's only one with a 'K' in parentheses."
Joseph hopes people are encouraged by the exhibit, wanting his brother's life to inspire others.
"We're all going to die, so in between you living and dying you want to try to do something," Joseph told abc24.com.
His family told abc24.com Willian loved helping others, especially his three brothers, and always put himself second. It was Dawson's dream to become a firefighter paramedic, but he enlisted right after high school.
"He went to the army to prepare for that and train. He was going to get the training he needed to move on," said Quita.
Since he didn't get to go to college, his mother established the PFC William Brandon Dawson scholarship fund for students who are planning on a military career. She told abc24.com the first anniversary of his death is the perfect time to begin fund raising.
"I still mourn," said Dawson. "But if I can do something to help somebody else, that's the type of person he was, it helps make everything feel better."
"I heard him say once he wasn't too concerned about his longevity of life," Joseph told abc24.com. "But quality of life. I think everything the community and his family has done has shown just how much quality his life had."
His family told abc24.com even in death, William is bringing out the best in them. The exhibit and the scholarship are the families way to be sure he didn't die in vain.
They're trying to raise $20,000. You can make a donation to the fund through the Tunica County Chamber of Commerce.