Don't disrespect the American Flag in the presence of Marshall Purner.
Purner, 89, who served in the U.S. Army at the tail end of WWII and during the Korean War, won't tolerate it. Once, he saw a woman sitting on a flag which was dragging the ground. He didn't hesitate to explain proper flag etiquette. "I would pay for a ticket to Haiti for those who disrespect the flag," said Purner. "The U.S. Flag is hallowed ground."
Once a week, Purner hangs out playing pinochle with fellow veterans, Jeff Taylor and Raymond Weatherington at the Young at Heart senior citizen weekly gathering at St. John's United Methodist Church.
Weatherington served in the Marine Corps from 1966-69 during Vietnam. "I am a graduate of the University of Southeast Asia," said Weatherington.
Taylor also served during the Vietnam era and beyond. He was in the Army from 1970-1986.
Purner relieved WW II veterans and served during the Nuremberg Trials. He then spent a year in Korea. He trained with the engineers and was later assigned to the infantry.
"We're all united in service," said Taylor.
"I love my country. I'm a survivor," said Purner.
Weatherington didn't always talk about his time in Vietnam. "I didn't tell anyone I was in the service for 20 years (after)," said Weatherington.
All three men are active with local veteran organizations.
Purner serves as Chaplain at VFW Post 6027 in North East. All three are VFW members. Taylor places flags on the graves of veterans for Memorial Day each year.
None regret their service.
"I'd do it again tomorrow," said Purner.
"It's not red, white and yellow," said Taylor.