My story is typical. I was born a poor, Black child. I survived the mean streets of the Buffalo suburbs and four straight losses in the Super Bowl, grew into a mature adult and pillar of the community, and made my parents proud. OK, well, part of that is true. I was indeed raised in the Buffalo 'burbs...North Tonawanda, to be exact. The rest? Well, can't a guy dream?
Here's some highlights. I was a big baby. Like, 20 lbs. Maybe a few less. Mom always reminds me of the pain. The guilt ensures she gets great birthday presents. I have a brother two years older, and he used to make my life a living Hell, like any good brother should. That stopped when I turned 12, and was bigger than him. I spent most of my formative years annoying my elders. That includes parents, teachers, and the police. If I wasn't in after-school detention, I was being questioned for the latest neighborhood "incident". Looking back, it a was all pretty harmless. Well, maybe not the thing we did to our Spanish Teacher. But that's a story for another time. Sports helped keep me out of any serious trouble. Get suspended...and you were kicked off the team. So that only happened once. Maybe twice. With hopes and dreams, and a suitcase filled with Molson Canadian Lager, I headed off to college. Less than a year later, and a plea agreement with a reduced sentence (like I said...never convicted), my college experience wasn't exactly going as planned. But, with threats of bodily harm from Mom solidly in my back pocket, I managed to graduate from Gannon University in Erie, PA, and looked forward to a lucrative career in broadcasting. Soooooooo...I've bounced around from station to station in such vacation hot spots as Clearfield, PA, Joplin, MO, Evansville, IN, and Fayetteville, NC. In February of 1999, I took the job that I have now (more or less).
I never did find that pot of gold, but I've had a lot of fun along the way. And moving here was the best thing that ever happened to me. I met my beautiful wife, Stacy, while watching a Bills game at what used to be Damon's on Tunnel Road, and we were married in September of 2001. I lost my wedding ring in a bizarre chicken wing incident (true story), so I really have no proof. But I think she'll vouch for me. We don't have any children, but we do have cats...lots and lots of cats. I'd love to tell you exactly how many, but I lost track. Seriously, I started counting them the other night, but had to stop after I'd used all my fingers and toes. I was plum out of digits.
So that's my story. Of course, some of the sordid details have been left out due to pending legal action. But, Judge...I swear I had no idea that pig was your pet!
January 20th, CPT Zachariah Fike, founder of Purple Hearts Reunited and Assistant Americanism Officer for the Military Order of the Purple Heart (MOPH), will conduct a ceremony to return a lost Purple Heart medal to WWII veteran, CPL George D. Hemphill.
Corporal George D. Hemphill, was born in November, 1922. He enlisted in the US Army in 1944, and served during WWII as an Infantryman in Company C, 2nd Infantry Regiment, 5th Infantry Division with service in Northern France and Germany. He was wounded on September 11th, 1944 in France, when shrapnel from enemy Sniper Fire left him partially blinded for three weeks. He would later make a full recovery and was discharged in March of 1946. Later in his life, there was a wreck in which a gasoline tanker was hit by a train in 1954. Mr. Hemphill ran in and tried to retrieve the driver, but the gasoline exploded before he was successful. He spent more than a year in the hospital from the burns and retains the scars today, but his regret was he couldn't get the driver out. Hero then, hero now, hero forever.
Hemphill's Purple Heart medal was discovered in 2000 by Bob Blum, also a veteran, in a Columbia, SC, antique shop. He spotted the medal and bought it for $70, knowing that the medal didn't belong there. Over the next few months, he tried to research and locate the original recipient with no luck. Then a close friend, Paul Marquis, himself a Purple Heart recipient for wounds received in
For Fike, this will be a very special ceremony for two reasons -- this will be the first time he will be able to return a Purple Heart medal to a living Veteran. There is also a special twist to the story; Fike himself was wounded on the same calendar day as Hemphill. September 11th, 1944 for Hemphill, and 2010 for Fike.
Mr. Hemphill will not only receive his Purple Heart back, but Fike discovered that he had been awarded a Bronze Star that he was entitled to and never received. At this ceremony Hemphill will also receive a Combat Infantryman Badge, European African Middle Eastern Medal w/ 3 Combat Stars, Good Conduct Medal, WWII Victory Medal, American Theater Service Medal, and Honorable Service Lapel Pin.
The greatest generation? Absolutely. The ceremony will take place on January 20th at 2pm, at the Rutherfordton Community Center, on Gilkey School Rd., if you would lke to attend. It is open to the public.