World War II veteran Joe Fulkerson is finally getting the recognition he deserves
FINES MASSEY • EDITOR@LACLEDERECORD.COM
Editor’s note: The following story contains gruesome imagery from a World War II veteran’s depiction of his time in a Japanese prison camp.
People around Lebanon may remember Joseph (Joe) Fulkerson as a reverend. The Kentucky native preached at Happy Hill Freewill Baptist Church and Second Freewill Baptist Church before his death in 1997. What many of his former parishioners and friends may not have known was that Fulkerson was a true American hero.
Although he didn’t like to talk about it, Fulkerson, who was 70 at the time of his death, had served in World War II and spent more than four years as a prisoner of war in Japan after he was captured in the Philippines.
Those who visited Fulkerson’s gravesite, which is located in front of Second Freewill Baptist Church, wouldn’t have known about his service to this country or the years he spent as a prisoner in Japan as his gravestone made no mention of either. When John Shoemaker, who is retired from the Army, heard about Fulkerson’s service, he wanted everyone to know about the man’s sacrifices.
“As a war and Army veteran myself, the idea that any soldier could endure the physical and emotional suffering Mr. Fulkerson experienced is unimaginable,” Fulkerson wrote in an email to the Record. “This brave gentleman rarely shared his tragic experience with anyone, and he passed away without the due diligence and honor I feel he deserved.”
For more on this story see Saturday's LCR.