Category: veteran

Roy man returns WWII veteran’s lost medals to family

ROY, Utah — The family of a World War II soldier has been identified after a Roy man’s nearly year-long search.

Five medals, a war photo and a casket flag are being mailed from Roy, Utah to Thomas Doug Walker’s family in Ukiah, California.

After Jim Thorpe’s friend found the lot of Walker’s WWII regalia in the closet of an Ogden apartment, the Thorpe set out to find the rightful owners.

“He was obviously someone special that did something to earn those medals,” Thorpe said. “It belongs with the family.”

Thorpe didn’t know where Walker lived or even which branch of the military he served. But he felt determined to reunite the symbols of Walker’s courage and character with his family.

“I can’t imagine this isn’t missed,” Thorpe said. “Somebody knows this is missing.”

Thorpe wasn’t sure he would ever find Walker’s family.

“It means something, you know,” Jim Thorpe said. “After so long, it got to the point I really didn’t know if we would ever find them.”

Now, the search is over.

“It’s just amazing how it all came together,” Bonnie Walker Marshall said.

A Facebook post about the medals reached Marshall in California. She immediately recognized her Uncle Doug and confirmed it with a copy of the same photo in the window box.

“He was an exceptional, caring man,” Marshall said.

Marshall says her Uncle Doug served bravely in the Pacific, losing his eye during battle and earning the purple heart. The two-time widower never had children and died 12 years ago.

“It’s just an honor to have this back in the family,” Marshall said. “Through all that everyone did, it was a tremendous effort and it’s just wonderful.”

As for how the memorial got to Utah, Marshall can only speculate. But she’s happy they’re being sent to Walker’s youngest brother Dale.

“They’re excited, and I’m excited to send it. It’s been a long time coming,” Thorpe said.

Biker group surprises 86-year-old veteran with ride-along

KAYSVILLE, Utah — Riders with the Patriot Guard granted a surprise wish to an 86-year-old Air Force veteran in Kaysville who served in the Korean War.

Family members said the last few years haven’t been the same for former Sgt. Ben Whicker. He had already been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease when he had a stroke last week.

The thing he misses most is riding motorcycles.

“He wakes up, and the only thing he ever expresses desire for is he’ll say, ‘I ought to get me a Harley,’” said his youngest daughter Ryanne Whicker.

Whicker’s family called the Patriot Guard Riders to see if they might be able to have someone bring a motorcycle by the house. Instead, they brought close to 100 riders and allowed the veteran to ride with them.

Paul Rahn, the ride captain, said it took less than a week to put together the motorcade.

“We’re doing this merely as a means to fulfill this man’s wish,” he said. “I think it’s going to be everything to him.”

Whicker didn’t back down when given the opportunity to ride again. Riders helped lift him out of his wheelchair and onto the back of a three-wheeled Harley-Davidson.

“I appreciate y’all being here,” Whicker said. “I don’t know why you are, but I appreciate you being here!”

“The light that lit up his eyes — it just really warmed my heart,” his daughter said. “I’m thinking he’s going to have sore face muscles later because he just cannot stop smiling… It’s going to be a steady decline from here, but I’m so thankful our family was prepared for this.”