Family Wants Military Medals For Tahlequah Vet

Thursday, September 10th 2009, 4:02 pm
By: News On 6

By Craig Day, The News On 6

TAHLEQUAH, OK -- An Oklahoma family is working to get long overdue recognition for an aging Cherokee County veteran.  He's been awarded some of our nation's highest honors for his service, but never received some of the actual medals he deserves.

At 83 years old, and battling Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease, Kenneth Rhodes memory and health are failing, but there are memories that remain of his distinguished military career.

It was 1942 when a teenager from Hulbert went off to war, serving in Europe and the Pacific Theatre.  He really doesn't consider himself a hero, but many others do. 

Rhodes went on to make the Army a career in Special Forces for 23 years for his country.  He is a man fortunate to have survived combat in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam.

"A lot of my buddies didn't," said Kenneth Rhodes.

Shrapnel in World War II and a bullet in Korea earned him two Purple Hearts and two Bronze Stars.  But, all these years later, he's still waiting to receive one of each of them.

"It's very important.  I think he deserves them.  And, I think he should have them.  I think he's worked for them," said Rhodes' wife, Hazel.

Rhodes wife, Hazel, isn't sure where to begin to find out why he never got the medals, or how to go about getting them now.  But, now that he's in an assisted living center, as his health fades and the years go by, it's becoming even more important.  It is one final mission for a man who gave so much for his country.

Mr. Rhodes' 84th birthday is coming up in December.  His family says it would be a great birthday present to finally get the medals by then.