Glasgow Daily Times, Glasgow, KY

Features

April 21, 2014

Perkins family donates fallen soldier’s memorabilia to South Central Kentucky Cultural Center

GLASGOW — The family of Pfc. Henry Paul Perkins gathered at the South Central Kentucky Cultural Center on Saturday to take a last look at old photographs and other memorabilia – including military medals – before donating them to the museum.

“In our eyes he was a hero,” said Temple Hill resident Sammy Perkins, a nephew of Henry Paul Perkins.

Pfc. Perkins, who also lived in Temple Hill, died in 1945 while fighting a battle during World War II at Heilbronn, Germany.

“His company officer wrote a book that explains how he was killed,” said Sammy Perkins.

Pfc. Perkins and fellow soldiers were led into a long factory building on the east side of an orchard and were working their way along the factory’s walls when gunfire broke out, killing the private, according to the book.

Before entering the factory, the young private had been showing photos of his young son, James Ernest, to his fellow soldiers.

The death of Pfc. Perkins angered his fellow soldiers, according to the book.

“Because he got killed, they fought harder than what they normally would,” said Sammy Perkins. “They knew he had left his little boy and his wife behind. He enraged them to fight harder.”

The private was buried in the American Military Cemetery in St. Avold, France, but a memorial marker for him has been placed on his wife’s tombstone at the Glasgow Municipal Cemetery. The family has photographs of his grave that the private’s sisters took when visiting France several years ago.

Among the medals he received during his military service are the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star.

Marshall Veach of Fountain Run, also a nephew, stumbled across his uncle’s military memorabilia when cleaning out his aunt’s house so it could be rented after she moved into a nursing home.

“We just kind of divided her stuff up among the family,” he said.  

Veach had a particular interest in his uncle’s military service, so he kept those items.

“Of course we talk about (him) like we met him and knew him, but none of us here ever knew him,” he said. “That was before our time. We’ve all heard about him all of our lives.”

The private’s family decided to donate his military memorabilia to the museum to show what sacrifice their uncle made for others’ freedom.

“It’s a small payback ... for the price he paid,” Veach said.   

Sharon Ganci, a volunteer at the museum, was present when the family brought Pfc. Perkins’ military memorabilia in for donation.

“I just think it’s an honor that they thought of the museum and that they were willing to share it with the people of Barren County,” she said.

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