Man pays tribute to slain grandfather

Published 12:00 am Friday, May 17, 2002

Features Editor

The story of the death of Troy Policeman Haden Youngblood at the hand of robber and murderer Eugene Gault could be a made-for-television movie.

Around Troy the 1962 incident is known as the Youngblood-Gault Saga. But, for some, the story is too personal to be seen or heard and then dismissed.

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For Jason Youngblood, the story is part of his life and it was also a directive in his life.

Hayden Youngblood was Jason’s grandfather – the grandfather he never knew because he was shot through the heart in 1962 as he attempted to protect those inside Hickman’s store from harm.

Youngblood has heard the story many times of how his grandfather was gunned down by a Gault, who was fleeing after killing two men in an attempted bank robbery in Ozark.

He heard it most often from his grandmother, Fannie Lou Youngblood, who was left with three sons, ages 16, 11 and 8.

"My dad, Tommy, was the middle son and he went by the police station that afternoon and heard his daddy being dispatched to Highway 29 where a murder suspect was reported to be headed," Youngblood said. "But, he was pulled out of the radio room when things started to go bad."

Young Tommy Youngblood heard the tragic news about his dad before his mother, Youngblood said.

"My grandmother was very emotional when she told the story," he said. "She had it rough trying to raise three sons. All she had ever done was work around the house. She didn’t have anything. She didn’t even know how to drive, but they made it."

Jason Youngblood’s dad wanted to be a police officer, but his mother begged him out of it.

"He really wanted to be a game warden, but my grandmother just couldn’t bear for him to go into any kind of law enforcement," Youngblood said.

Jason Youngblood’s not sure whether the desire to be a police officer was in his blood or whether it was etched in his mind by the stories of his grandfather.

"There were a lot of people around who knew my grandfather and they talked about him a lot," he said. "I grew up hearing stories about him and, for as long as I can remember, I wanted to be a police officer."

Youngblood studied criminal justice at Troy State University and graduated from the police academy and was wearing a gun before he was 21 years old.

He worked with the Dothan Police Department for several years before heading to the West Coast a year ago to join the police department in San Francisco’s East Bay area.

"My grandmother got to see me in uniform a couple of times before she died," he said. "I think she was proud of me. I don’t know what my grandfather would think, but I hope he would be proud. My dad was proud of my grandfather and I think he’s proud of me for following in his footsteps."