PURPLE HEARTS FOR COMMON SOLDIERS - CCCOA Sixth Annual Veteran's Day Celebration


Arnold Yoak, Sr. gets his belated Purple Heart

Usually we feature the old soldiers, but last night two younger ones attended the event, Travis Duelley (left) who served in Iraq and Don Reichard (right) of Spencer who served in the Gulf War

WWII veteran Denver Gandee of Spencer said "The Purple Heart is for the common soldier. Only the enemy, by inflicting injury, can recommend one for the honor."

A Calhoun soldier, 80-year-old Arnold Yoak, Sr. of Big Bend, was given a belated but well-earned Purple Heart last night at the CCCOA 6th Annual Veterans Celebration.

The Purple Heart was for injuries he received during the Korean War. Yoak also served in World War II.

A large crowd of old and younger soldiers attended the special event

Yoak was granted the Purple Heart by a military review commission that said his records were lost, but "justice needs to be served" in this case.

He was pinned by his son Roger, surrounded by family members.

Both of Arnold Yoak's sons, Roger and Robert, served in the Vietnam War.

Roane County's Denver Gandee delivers keynote speech

CCCOA Director Ritchie examines German rifle owned by Jim Burrows

Gandee was the keynote speaker for the evening, which was attended by a large group of soldiers and their families from World War II through the current Iraqi War.

Gandee recalled his relationship with Calhoun's Medal of Honor recipient, Bernard Pious Bell, and his experiences capturing the Bridge at Remagen, which inspired Ken Heckler's book, and was later made into a motion picture.

COCOA Director Mike Ritchie said "You're the real thing they make movies about," saying he just watched the Remagen capture on the History Channel. "One of you could have been in the film clips," he said.

Ritchie gave an update on the "Last Man's Club" and issued honorary certificates to the soldiers.

Von Yoak sang the National Anthem, American Legion Post 21 of Spencer advanced the colors and Spencer resident Bob Bush lead the Pledge of Allegiance.

The group enjoyed a buffet dinner.