When it was his turn to address the attendees at the St. Marys Servicemen's Detail's annual banquet on Saturday Evening, Sergeant in Charge Tom Price began by announcing that he was about to do something that he had wanted to do for a long time, honor World War II Purple Heart veterans.
"These people are like ghosts in the wind. You don't know who they are. They might be your neighbor. They might be your friend down the street. The only time you read about them is when they die and they have an obituary in the paper," Price said.
The Purple Heart is presented to soldiers who were wounded or killed during their term of military service, and according to the website purpleheart.org, there were 964,409 Purple Heart recipients during World War II.
He explained that he had originally intended to honor two such veterans, but only one, Frank Skok, was able to make it to the banquet. Floyd Eckert was unable to attend.
Price noted that he knew Skok his entire life, with the two having grown up together in Lynchville.
"He lived at the top of the hill. I lived at the bottom of the hill. He'd go to work and he'd wave to me or I'd wave to him. I got to know Frank over the years from the VFW and then when I joined the Burial Detail, the Burial Detail was always there on Memorial Day, and I never knew until the last couple years that he was a Purple Heart veteran," Price said. "So I thought it's time to start honoring some of these people because they deserve it and nobody does anything for them."