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Starling Perry with Post charter
Hello again from VFW Post 5127 in Whitley City. Our post has received many accolades and honors in the past few months, and I will report on them in a future article. But, I would like to use this Boots on the Ground to highlight one of the founding members of Post 5127 who celebrated his 97th birthday in April. Starling Perry is a World War II veteran and one of those heroic individuals who are responsible for keeping the lamp of freedom burning in this country. He was born in McCreary County on April 9, 1926 to Early Virgil Perry and Hattie Watson and raised on a four acre farm on Sand Hill Road. He joined the U.S. Navy when he was eighteen and served from July 26, 1944 to March 17, 1946. Starling spent fifteen months in the Philippine Islands and was there when the Japanese surrendered and the war in the Pacific came to an end. He was then sent to China to help in getting defeated Japanese soldiers back home. While he was there, he had an experience that he still likes to talk and laugh about, although, at the time, it was no laughing matter.
It seems that Starling and a buddy of his were at a restaurant, eating and drinking, and, while trying to find their way back to their ship, accidentally stumbled into a zone occupied by Chinese Communist soldiers. When the soldiers started poking him and his buddy with bayonets, Starling thought the game was up, and it would have been if a Chinese officer who spoke English had not come to their rescue. They got back to their ship safely and vowed not to do such a thing again.
Starling learned many things while in the Navy, one of which was how to drive a truck. After a stint in the coal mines when he got back home, he spent most of his working career in the trucking industry, hauling lumber and coal and cars for the famous Dixie Transport Company. Later on, he drove a school bus.
It was while he was in the trucking business that Starling had an experience that he tells about in his new book Starling and His Angel. I would encourage you to get his book if you want to read an entertaining story and one that will touch your heart.
When Post 5127 of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States was organized in McCreary County in 1991, Starling was one of the first veterans to be sworn in. He has been with us ever since. He has served in almost every office we have, including Post Commander. To say that Starling has been critical to the survival of the post would be putting it mildly. He has been essential.
Like all civic organizations, our post has undergone many threats to its survival and in 1996, one of them succeeded. The post was dissolved in June of that year, but was reconstituted the following spring. We lost many members because of internal disputes and disagreements, but, through it all, Starling Perry held firm in his belief that an organization for war veterans was needed in McCreary County. When Post 5127 came back to life in March of 1997, Starling was there to help re-birth it. Advancing years have made it difficult for him to participate fully in the life of the post, but we always try to make sure he is included in the special events that take place from time to time. He is a beloved comrade and will always be a true hero to us, and to all Americans who value the freedoms he and others like him have given to them. So, here is a salute to Starling Perry, one of McCreary County’s finest. May he serve as an example for all of us and when young people look around for someone to emulate, they need look no further than Starling Perry.
Until next time, take care of yourselves, be good to your neighbor, and when you see a vet, don’t forget to say Thank You.