After his father’s death in 1999, an Elkin resident decided it was time to have his father honored for the service he gave during World War II. Six years later, the time and sacrifice given are being recognized formally.
While a Bronze Star may still be in order based on paperwork obtained by Rick Cockerham, his father’s Purple Heart and several other honors are now in his family’s hands as they were presented to Cockerham by Congressman Mark Walker, 6th District, Wednesday during his visit to Elkin.
The presentation in the Elkin Town Hall lobby was simple, with Cockerham asking for no fanfare, and nearly brought tears to both Cockerham and Walker as the Purple Heart was handed from one man to the other.
Walker said later in the day the presentation of the late Thorbourn Cockerham’s earned medals was the most humbling experience he had on his tour of Elkin, which included visits to Pittsburgh Glass Works, Speedy Chef and Hugh Chatham Memorial Hospital for a tour and award announcement.
Rick Cockerham said his father never wanted recognition for the price he paid serving during World War II, which included extensive injuries which plagued him even late in life. His father served in the U.S. Army from 1942 until August 1945, when he was discharged in a hospital in Alabama after being injured overseas.
Cockerham said his father never talked much about his experiences in war.
Since his father’s death in 1999, Cockerham has been researching and obtaining the paperwork needed to have Thorbourn Cockerham recognized.
On Wednesday, Walker was able to present the son with his father’s Purple Heart, Combat Infantry Badge, Good Conduct Medal, Honorable Service lapel pin and World War II Victory Medal.
Cockerham, whose father was born in 1922 and raised in Elkin, said Thorbourn was part of the horse calvary until it ended in 1943.
“I’m certainly impressed with all these medals, but I’m really impressed with your due diligence,” Walker said of the son’s persistence in honoring his father’s service.
“What a hero,” Walker said after hearing Cockerham’s story of his father’s service and injuries.
Cockerham provided Walker with more paperwork in hopes of eventually obtaining a Bronze Star.
Wendy Byerly Wood may be reached at 336-258-4035 or on Twiter @wendywoodeditor.