By Robert Barron, Staff Writer
Enid News & Eagle
ENID, Okla. —
Five area veterans will be recognized for their service to the country during this year’s Legacy Banquet at 7:30 p.m. Sunday.
This year’s Legacy Award recipients are Elmer Young, representing the U.S. Army; Coot Nelson, Marine Corps; Paul Tyree, U.S. Navy; R.D. Lawrence, U.S. Air Force; and Coast Guard veteran Jack Murphy.
Young was a member of the 82nd Airborne Division during World War II. His division saw heavy casualties. Enemy troops would target parachuting soldiers, leading to more than 6,500 men being wounded and more than 1,600 killed in action. Young said he is lucky to be alive. “God took me through the whole war, and I was never hurt. I had bumps and scratches, but nothing serious,” he said.
During the invasion of Sicily, Young jumped into the Battle of the Bulge and helped take out a German-held bridge in Holland. His first jump into battle with the division came after two months of training along the Mediterranean Sea. During the jump, he became entangled in the harness of his parachute. His rifle fell to the ground and he lost a friend in the jump.
Nelson, of Watonga, was taking private pilot lessons while attending Southwestern Oklahoma State University. After Pearl Harbor plunged the United States into the war, he joined the United States Navy. After training, he became a military pilot and served in Guadalcanal. American troops were seizing the airfield from the Japanese, to provide a base for aircraft during the American advance on the Guadalcanal. The battle took place August 1942 to February 1943. It was three days from completion when Nelson arrived.
Nelson and his squad flew repeated missions against Japanese shipping during his first week, dive-bombing Japanese troop transports and warships. When that task was finished, they turned to Japanese positions on New Georgia where the Marines were attempting to secure the Munda airfield from June to August of 1943.
R.D. Lawrence of Wakita served as a member of the U.S. Air Force, after being drafted in 1942. He flew B-17s in West Africa and Italy, then went on bombing missions into Germany, Italy, Austria, Yugoslavia, Hungary, Romania and Greece.
Naval veteran Paul Tyree of Hitchcock was a hospitalman chief at several notable locations including Kiska, Saipan, Guam, Tinian, Marshall Islands, Iwo Jima and Okinawa.
He had to abandon ship under extreme mortar fire in Guam. The ship had become stuck on a reef and the crew was forced to abandon ship.
Tyree was wounded at Tinian and received a Purple Heart. As the ship’s medic, he pulled the shrapnel out of his wound, patched it up and went on with his work.
Murphy entered the Coast Guard in 1955 when he enlisted and attended basic training in New Jersey. Murphy was assigned to Coast Guard Intelligence, and was temporarily assigned to a high profile investigation of a sunken commercial fishing vessel off the coast of Massachusetts. During one patrol in 1965, Murphy assisted in the care of 35 Greek sailors rescued from the vessel Lampsis. In 1968, he transferred to the Coast Guard Institute in Oklahoma City and his final tour was in St. Louis, where, as chief, he successfully led an inspection team over 21 states. He continues to live in Oklahoma City.