A World War II story of courage and heroism was shared with students at Prairie Central Junior High School in Forrest Friday morning.
Junior High Social Studies teacher Angie Kratochvil told the story of a young Army soldier from Illinois who saw plenty of action overseas. One of the battles placed him in Tunisia, Africa in early 1943 and German dive bombers were all over and quite close to him. He saw at least one man in his company hit and killed.
“This soldier could be any soldier from any armed services division from any time in our American history,” said Kratochvil.
That young Army solider spent 38 months fighting Germans during World War II. In the spring of 1944, he was in a midnight convoy of vehicles with their lights turned off when they decided they were going the wrong way. The other vehicle hit a mine and the mortar exploded the vehicle up in the air bursting it into flames.
“The young soldier was injured by flying pieces of shrapnel but he regained consciousness and helped rescue the injured driver who unfortunately died a few days later,” Kratochvil explained.
The injury earned the solider the Purple Heart.
“That soldier isn’t just any soldier,” said Kratochvil. “That soldier is my grandpa, John Harms. He survived more than three years of service overseas during World War II and returned home in the summer of 1945.”
Kratochvil’s grandparents were married on November 11, 1945. This weekend is the 78th anniversary of the day they said I do.
“Today, in recognition of Veterans Day, we celebrate veterans both living and deceased who have dedicated a portion of their time on Earth to defend and protect the United States of America.”
Also during the PCJH Veterans Day assembly, the Forrest American Legion Color Guard presented the flags and student council representative Violet Kerber led the Pledge of Allegiance. Megan Lackaff and the PCJH band performed the Star Spangled Banner and Armed Forces song while Ben Joseph performed Taps.
Student Council president Reese Weber gave the welcome, Ava Tatro introduced the speaker and Liza Taulbee thanked the speaker. Student Council representative Ellie Curl thanked the veterans in attendance and announced a token of appreciation, which included a coin and handshake.
Michelle Harms announced an upcoming care package drive at the school and student Katelyn Stoller presented, “Unless You’ve Been a Soldier.”
PCJH Principal Amy Bachtold dismissed the students after sharing a brief story of her father, who was a veteran.
“Please take the time to say thank you,” Bachtold said.