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Local WWII veteran awarded medals lost in fire

A U.S. Navy veteran's sacrifice honored once again

CHRISTIANSBURG, Va. – Earnest Fulcher's time in the U.S. Navy during World War II took him all over the world.

"It's a long story," Fulcher said. "It goes all the way from Algiers plum up into France."

When he enlisted, he lied about his age to join. He was just 15 and underweight, so he had to bulk up.

"I had a quarter and I bought all the bananas I could buy and I ate the peelings and all," Fulcher said.

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On the ship, he worked as a cook and a "squeegee". He also dropped depth charges into the water to sink enemy submarines. One night, he spotted one.

"They actually shot a -- I guess you'd call it -- a torpedo at us. Missed us about 10 feet. I saw it go by," Fulcher said.

He jumped into action. 

"I actually destroyed it because it never did report to its base," Fulcher said.

Fulcher is one of the few Virginians still living who witnessed what happened on the beaches of Normandy. His service earned him several awards, but it's been more than half a century since he seen his medals. The originals were lost in a fire right after the war."

Before the 75th D-Day anniversary this summer, his daughter Becky Coffey requested to replace them.

Monday morning, U.S. Congressman Morgan Griffith presented Fulcher with the medals he earned so many years ago. He earned the Combat Action Ribbon, American Campaign Medal, European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal (with two stars), WWII Victory Medal, Honorable Discharge Button, and Honorable Service Lapel Pin.

"I cannot imagine what you had to do to earn this," Griffith said. "And I am so appreciative."

"Some people done something," Fulcher said.

It was a moving moment for Fulcher's family and friends

"We need to record their stories and talk to them about it while we can," Coffey said. "And to remember that it was a great sacrifice during WWII they gave up years of their life to give us freedom."

These medals mark the 92-year-old's service, though his stories will carry on the memory of his sacrifice.


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