Remembering our heroes this holiday weekend

So many families can point with pride to those who served

By Kelly Hockenberry, Columnist, The Times

KellyColumn415RevisedIn honor of Memorial Day, I wanted to pass along the amazing story of my husband’s grandfather.

Wilfred Eugene Hockenberry (Gene to his family and friends) was an 18 year old U.S. Army soldier fighting in Salerno, Italy in World War II. He and his buddy were hiding in a fox hole when they were surrounded and captured by German officers. They were held as prisoners of war for thirteen months and thirteen days and liberated on 13th day of the month.

Over the course of that time, Gene experienced dire conditions and horrible tragedies. During his imprisonment, he was forced to clear rubble after enemy bombing. In a cruel twist of fate, the night before they were set free, Gene’s friend was killed trying to escape from the camp.

Back when he was first captured, Gene was stripped of his personal effects, including a watch given to him by his parents for his high school graduation. The day they were rescued, Gene relayed the story to his liberators and one of the soldiers took a pocket watch from a German officer and handed it to Gene. This watch was passed down to my father-in-law, then to my husband and will eventually go to our oldest son.

Memorial-DayI cannot image my seventeen year old having to endure such heartache as that experienced by his great grandfather.

It makes me appreciate the bravery and sacrifice of the men and women in our military.

Awarded the Bronze Star on June 4th, 1991, Gene was officially recognized for the hero his family knew he was all along.

Thank you to all who have served, including my own Marine father who fought in the Vietnam

War, also as an 18 year old. Makes you pray a little harder for world peace, doesn’t it?

Happy Memorial Day Weekend

   Send article as PDF   

Share this post:

Related Posts


  1. Jean says:

    So grateful as well.

  2. Kelly says:

    Thanks, Barb! Happy Memorial Day to you 🙂

  3. Barb says:

    Yes it does! Amen sister! Great post!

Leave a Comment