Lafayette McKinney Jr. has been on a mission to get a Purple Heart medal for his father, and 69 years after his father was wounded, McKinney's mission ended this week.
McKinney's Father, Lafayette McKinney Senior, passed away back in 1991. Although McKinney knew his father wouldn't personally receive the medal, he said it's something he just had to do to show respect and honor to his dad that sacrificed so much.
It was a day Lafayette McKinney Jr. didn't think would ever come. The day his late father, Lafayette McKinney Sr., would be honored with a Purple Heart.
"He was denied it all the other times," McKinney said.
McKinney Sr. served as a combat medic in World War II. Then after four years in the military, one bullet ended his career.
"April 8th, 1945 he was working on wounded soldiers and was shot in the back," McKinney explained.
After being released from the hospital he returned home to Danville, and the mission started.
"When he was discharged he made a request about rewards and medals because he'd been separate from his unit and he was denied anything," McKinney said.
His father's incorrect military records made it difficult to receive the medals he'd earned. Eventually he was able to cross two things off the list, a bronze star and combat medical badge.
"But His records weren't amended at that time," McKinney said.
That, and the fact that the National Archives fire that destroyed millions of military records, made McKinney Senior's pursuit for the Purple Heart much harder.
"He died in 1991 and I've been pursing this ever since," McKinney said.
Finally came the light at the end of the tunnel, after working with Congressman Robert Hurt's office. 69 years later, the mission is complete.
"I can't tell you how proud I am. I'm basking in his glory. I can't imagine what he did and went through so it's special to me," McKinney said.
Congressman Hurt's office also had McKinney Senior's military records fixed and awarded him other medals.
McKinney said it was a tough feat, but he kept going because he knew it was something very special to his dad.