(WSYR-TV) — Eric Lorraine remembers his grandfather, Ernest Carhart — a U.S. Army veteran who served in WWI.
“He wasn’t drafted but he took the place of another guy that was his buddy in Minoa who was drafted and was married,” said Eric. “My grandfather wasn’t married at the time, so he said ‘You have a wife, I’ll take your place.'”
And so in April of 1918, Ernest went off to fight in Europe.
“WWI as famous for gas usage so he got hit by a gas attack,” said Eric. “He spent six months in the hospital recuperating. And then by the time he was fully recuperated he was shipped home and the war was over.”
Back in Minoa, Ernest continued living life in the village he grew up in. “Curly,” as he was known, went to work on the railroad and raised five children.
He loved chopping wood at his camp in Old Forge and smoking unfiltered cigarettes.
Eric served as well in the U.S. Air Force, always wanting to know more about his grandfather’s service.
9/11 happened and Eric’s research was put on hold. But he had already learned that a fire in St. Louis had destroyed most of the records of those who served in the war.
“Happenstance, my mother finds his discharge papers on ancestry.com and so I get a copy of that and I go to Representative Katko’s office and I ask, ‘Hey, can you help me?'”
What Eric wanted was a Purple Heart for his grandfather. He felt he’d earned it, having been severely injured in WWI. Katko presented Eric, his mother Madelyn and family members with Ernest’s Purple Heart earlier this year. It happened just before gatherings like those were put on hold because of COVID-19.
It’s the highest honor to be able to honor our military veterans and their families and obviously it means a lot to them and that’s why we spend so much time on this issue with our veterans because a lot of them didn’t want the medals.Rep. John Katko
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