Okeechobee County asked to honor veteran

OKEECHOBEE — “We all know Okeechobee is proud of our history,” Greg Maynard told the Okeechobee County Commissioners at their Jan. 25 meeting in the Historic Okeechobee County Courthouse.

“I happened to find a little piece of history that may have been overlooked,” said Mr. Maynard, handing the commissioners copies of a newspaper article about Earl Henry Hansel, who died in 1951 at age 26, in a prisoner of war camp in North Korean.

“This gentleman gave the ultimate sacrifice. He went to World War II. A few years later, the Korean War broke out. He went to Korea,” Mr. Maynard said.

While the family was notified that Mr. Hansel had died in the POW camp — at least three other soldiers stated they saw him die — his body was never returned to the United States.

“I think this man should be honored with a street or a little park, something like that,” said Mr. Maynard.

“I believe a soul wanders if it doesn’t have a proper resting place. Maybe a little something would give this soul a little bit of rest and maybe give his family some closure,” he said.

“People ask what about other veterans who fought and died,” said Mr. Maynard. He added that the families of those veterans at least know where they are buried.

“I looked at the numbers to make sure there were no other POW/MIAs from Okeechobee, and there was only one name, Earl Hansel.

“If it’s a money issue, I’ll pay for the sign,” said Mr. Maynard. “I feel he needs to be honored.”

Commission Chair Terry Burroughs said he would look into it himself.

“I appreciate you bringing it to our attention,” he said.

He said the county plans to honor all veterans who were awarded Purple Hearts.

“There might also be a way for us to honor all of those who did not come home,” said Commissioner Kelly Owens.

Commissioner Bryant Culpepper suggested the county arrange for a ceremony to present medals Mr. Hansel earned to the family.

The first step, said Chairman Burroughs is to provide the county veteran services officer with a copy of Mr. Hansel’s military DD 214 form.

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