Special spaces show respect for combat wounded vets

Published 1:30 am Saturday, July 2, 2016


Kayla Mitchell, T.J. Barbaree., Kimber Ruseell and Kross Russell, paint a purple hearts on a new parking space.

It was Thanksgiving night, Nov. 24, 1967, in South Vietnam.

Ed Sansom, who joined up voluntarily, was among the American Naval forces assigned to river patrol. An unexpected attack killed seven and wounded 14, one of whom was Sansom.


Ed Sansom, a Purple Heart veteran, has lead the efforts to get these specially designated parking spots in Andalusia and Opp.


“I can still picture ever one of those seven guys,” he said. “A buddy who slept down below me was killed.”

The experience has made Sansom appreciate those who, like himself, earned a Purple Heart.

“They shed blood for our country on foreign soil,” he said. “We should appreciate that.”

With that thought, Sansom has worked to have combat wounded parking spots made available in Covington County. The national initiative, headed by Wounded Warriors Family Support, provides free signs to reserve spots for combat wounded veterans.

Sansom has worked with volunteers – many of whom are family members – to get reserved parking signs erected and to paint the spots with big purple hearts.

“It doesn’t cost the business anything,” he said. “If they agree to it, we’ll get the signs up and the spots painted.”

In March, the Opp resident got his hometown designated a Purple Heart city. Then he got to work on parking spaces in Opp. He recently began a similar parking project in Andalusia, and Friday, added spaces at Marvin’s, Pic N Sav, Tractor Supply, Wal-Mart, and CCB Community Bank.

Nationwide, there are 1.8 million combat-wounded veterans. Covington County Veterans Service Officer Brian Foshee said numbers are not available at the county level, but since taking the job last year, he has been surprised at the number of Purple Heart veterans locally.

Sansom expressed his thanks to the City of Andalusia for their assistance in installing the signs. Anyone interested in having Purple Heart parking spaces can contact him at 251-656-5042.

He is a member of the AmVets Post 23 in Opp, Military Order of the Purple Heart, Disabled American Veterans and the American Legion.