CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WOWK) – The late Thurston Engle enlisted in The U.S. Army in the fall of 1939 at the young age of 18. During WWII he was deployed to Germany where he was captured by Germans and held in a concentration camp for months. After he and his fellow soldiers were liberated he was awarded a total of 23 medals including The Bronze Star and Two Purple Hearts.
“His extreme hardship and these medals represent what he went through,” says his son, Tony Engle.
When the 2016 floods hit his daughters home in Clendenin the medals were washed away with the rushing waters. Senator Joe Manchin got wind of the heartbreaking loss and took action to replace the family heirlooms.
“Our staff started working and was able to inquire all of the medals back so that the family was able to have them as a keepsake for them to be handed down for generations to come,” says Manchin.
Engle’s legacy will now live on through his children, great-grandchildren, and great-great-grandchildren who can look at the medals and understand his heroism.
“I think it’s important for a family to understand the commitment and sacrifices and really the part of this country that their father played a part in,” adds The Senator.
Engle’s family says he didn’t talk much about the war except for one story: Before he was captured by the Germans he buried a letter from his mother in the ground so the enemy wouldn’t have her address.