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The Paducah Sun
Wednesday, November 19, 1999
Paducah Veteran Surprised by Award
Homer Holmes was named Distinguished Veteran by the Paducah Parks Department

By Angie Kinsey
The Paducah Sun

Homer Holmes gets award
Homer Holmes wiped away tears after what he thought was a routine photography session turned into the surprise of his life.

Holmes, 71, was named the 1999 Distinguished Veteran by the Paducah Parks Department in a surprise ceremony Tuesday morning at Southland Baptist Temple, where Holmes is a member.

"We told him they were making the veteran pictures out at the church today," said Pat Aldridge, Holmes' daughter. "He had no idea."

Aldridge nominated her father after seeing a parks department ad for the award' "I thought I ought to write a letter about Dad," she said. "I had no idea I would hear back from them. I was really surprised. I really feel good for him. They went through a lot in the war."

Holmes, who was diagnosed with acute leukemia last year, served in the U.S. Army's 419th Armored Division during World War II. He received a Prisoner of War medal and three Purple Heart medals for being shot in the back, head, and shoulder.

"He served three months in a POW camp in Germany," Aldridge wrote in her letter.

"He said it seemed like three years. They wore the same clothes for three months."

Holmes, who uses a wheelchair, arrived at the church with his son, Homer Holmes Jr., a Vietnam War Veteran. Mayor Albert Jones proclaimed the elder Holmes a Duke of Paducah, and mortician Jerry Beyer presented him with a Distinguished Veteran plaque from Roth Funeral Chapel. The Rev. Harold Council, pastor of Southland Baptist Temple, gave Holmes a plaque from the church honoring his years of service to his country.

Pat Earles, supervisor of arts and special programs for the parks office, said Holmes would be one of the honored guests in Thursday's Veterans' Day parade. "We had 13 nominees," Earles said. "It's really a hard choice to make. The personal information shared by his daughter was from the bottom of her heart and, I guess, from her father's."

The program concluded with Holmes' granddaughter Selena Dumbacher, 16, a student at Lone Oak High School, singing the national anthem, Holmes, who is retired from the Illinois Central Railroad. and his wife, Frances, have been married for 51 years. They have three children and nine grandchildren.

Several family members, Veterans, and other guests attended, "I could hardly sleep last night, thinking about this," said Cheryl Bendick, representing the Daughters of the American Revolution, "Look at his medals. It makes us wonder what they went through. It keeps us in perspective."

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