Purple Heart amputees surprised by $1,000 gift each from fellow veterans

bpurser@macon.comOctober 5, 2013 

Tommy Clack, a Vietnam War veteran from Conyers, left, and Jason Letterman, an Operation Iraqi Freedom veteran from Hinesville, share a moment under the Americans Helping Wounded Veterans tent Saturday at 2-Wheel Motorcycle Shop on Houston Road in Peach County.

BECKY PURSER — bpurser@macon.com

BYRON -- When Bob Paschal kept coming into Joe Rutherford’s trophy shop in Macon for plaques to honor those who helped veterans, Rutherford took note.

And when Rutherford, a veteran himself, learned that Paschal and his wife, Betty, had formed the nonprofit Americans Helping Wounded Veterans, Rutherford said he wanted to help.

“When he told me that every penny raised went to help a disabled veteran, that sounded like something I wanted to get involved in,” Rutherford said. “That sold it for me.”

Rutherford, who owns Rutherford Trophies & Awards on Pio Nono Avenue, next huddled with his friend, Warren Martin. Martin is affiliated with the Middle Georgia Mustang Club. Rutherford and Martin became friends from their shared interest of classic cars.

The Middle Georgia Mustang Club next held a car show Sept. 7 at Bass Pro Shops and raised $8,000 for veterans. The men decided to award $1,000 each to eight Purple Heart amputees.

“I was fortunate to come back from Vietnam. I want to help my fellow vets that weren’t as fortunate as I was to come back with all their limbs,” Martin said.

On Saturday, two of those Purple Heart recipients were surprised with a $1,000 check each at a presentation at the 2-Wheel Motorcycle Shop on Houston Road.

“Anytime any of us are honored, we are representative of the whole,” said Tommy Clack, a Vietnam War veteran from Conyers. He lost his legs and right arm in the war.

“It’s a big deal,” said Jason Letterman, of Hinesville, who lost his feet in Operation Iraqi Freedom.

The other six veterans chosen for the gift awards will receive their checks at a later date, Martin said.

Three of the recipients have not yet been selected.

For more information about Americans Helping Wounded Veterans, visit www.ahwvets.org on the Internet.

To contact writer Becky Purser, call 256-9559.

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