Bench with 14th Infantry Regiment crest stolen from child’s gravesite in Beaufort

BEAUFORT, Sc. (WSAV) – James Mcdiffett visits his son at the Anderson Funeral Home in Beaufort every week, but last month he noticed something was missing and he’s asking that it be returned.

“He was watching a show on the American Heroes channel,” said Mcdiffett, “And he came running out of his room, ‘Daddy, daddy come look at this!’ So I got up, walked to his room and looked at what he was watching, and he said ‘That’s what I want to do, I want to be an airborne ranger!’

That was six-year-old James Mcdiffett Junior’s dream.

“First year of first grade on Labor Day… well, he had an accident,” his father said.

In 2014, while playing outside, he unhooked a trailer door that fell on him and took his life.

His father had served as an infantry soldier in the 14th Infantry Regiment in Hawaii… “Got in contact with my brothers in the infantry,” he said, “They knew he wanted to be a little grunt, so to speak.”

Junior, as his dad calls him, became an honorary member of the 14th Infantry Regiment and 82nd Airborne Division.

“I had this old bench that was given to me,” McDiffett saidm “I painted it all up… replaced the wood, stainless steal hardware and I fixed the 14th Infantry Regiment crest into the back, so everybody would know that hey this is for Junior, it represents what he became and all of us..”

It was a sacred place for dad to sit and talk with his son.

“I’ve been battling cancer since 2011 and a lot of times with the treatments, if I come out here, I can’t stay upright for long periods. I start getting real light headed or fatigue, but it gives me a chance to sit down and just talk to my son,” Mcdiffett said, “Let him know certain things that I been doing around the house or something or tell him something silly that one of the guys posted on Facebook from the unit.”

But when he came to visit after Christmas…

“When we came around the corner I looked this direction and noticed his bench was missing.. and I was shocked,” he said, “It’s just unfathomable that somebody would… I don’t get it.”

Mcdiffett’s plea now is for whoever to took it to bring it back.

“If you’re too scared to bring it back, set it somewhere where somebody can find it so it can come back to where it belongs,” he said, “‘Cause that was his bench. He’s 6 years old.”

The funeral home staff says they do have cameras, but not on the graves, for privacy reasons.
If you know where Junior’s bench might be, you can contact the father at (843) 926-5926, or the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office.

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