A dozen or so attendees turned out to both honor a fellow vet and to meet with a veteran services representative recently at the Davis Community Center.
The event was spear-headed by Rex Liller who, a vet himself, wanted to give local veterans the opportunity to meet with someone who might be able to help them.
“A lot of these guys, men and women, have been fighting to get their disability. Folks who deserve it but are not getting it. Some were subjected to contaminants and have fought for benefits twenty years or more. Hopefully meeting with these men will cut through the bureaucracy.”
An attendee, “Frenchie” Gravelle told of his plight. “I’m 73 years old, I have a part-time job and they tell me I make too much money. It’s actually cheaper for me to go to a local doctor or clinic than to go to the local V.A.”
The highlight of the evening came in the awarding of a silver star to the late Lester “Buck” Hinkle a WWII veteran. Richie Parsons, District Director for Congressman David McKinley; Aaron Metz, Field Representative for our area; and Bob Villers, Veterans Services Constituent Representative were in attendance. Villers had the honor of presenting Hinkle’s Silver Star along with four medals to Hinkle’s children. Scott Hinkle and Marcia Lemon, a veteran herself, received the awards with pride.
S. Hinkle wore not only his father’s dog-tags but his grandfather’s tags from WWI. Along with the silver star, L. Hinkle was awarded a medal for Good Conduct, The Victory Medal, An American Campaign Medal, and a European, African, and Middle Eastern Campaign medal. Hinkle’s paperwork reflected that he qualified expert mortar, expert large machine gun, expert small machine gun, and expert M-1 rifle.
After Hinkle’s death, his son Scott, a funeral director, was doing the paperwork for a military flag and foot marker when looking at his father’s DD-214 (military discharge papers) he discovered that his Dad had been awarded the honor. After many channels of paperwork, S. Hinkle heard from the Department of Defense that a fire had destroyed a portion of military records and it was thought that perhaps Lester’s might be part of the lost records. The son pursued the matter with Congressman McKinley’s office and after more paperwork Scott received a call a couple of weeks ago that they had his father’s honors and would present them at the (then) upcoming meeting.
L. Hinkle never spoke much of his service time unless he was asked but it was known that he was one of the paratroopers on D-Day. It was there he fractured his leg and was hospitalized and upon recovery was sent to Germany. A family member recalled that he spoke of the battle of the Bridge at Remagen which is where he may have earned the Silver Star.
The capture of said bridge was an important event of World War II in Western Europe because this was the only significant bridge still standing over the Rhine from the West into the heartland of Nazi Germany. Since it was a railroad bridge, this bridge was also strong enough that the U.S. Army could cross it immediately with heavy tanks and artillery pieces and trucks full of military supplies.
At the end of the meeting the vets were given the opportunity to speak with Bob Villers a Veteran Services Constituent Representative to discuss their individual concerns.