Elizabeth Pycha remembers her brother George as an avid reader and talented young artist.
“We have saved many of his pieces of artwork,” said Pycha as she sat calmly on one of the park benches at the Wine Street Memorial Park last Friday.
At 18, George Franklin Jenkins was drafted into the U.S. Marine Corps, in February of 1943. He left on a bus from Culpeper to Washington, D.C.
“That’s how they did it then, they traveled to Washington,” said Pycha. Jenkins was sent to Pensacola, Florida for training. In July of that year, he, along with two others, were killed in a training exercise.
While he didn’t see the shores of Normandy, he certainly gave his life for his country and Pycha wants him to be remembered.
Living not far from the Wine Street Memorial she remembers when the ‘Homage’ statue designed by Kansas sculptor Jim Brothers was dedicated. She also remembers that her brother’s name did not appear along with the other 48 names of those who lost their lives from Culpeper during World War II.
She brought her disappointment to the attention of Keith Price who now sits on town council and who was instrumental in having the monument erected and in compiling the list of names to appear permanently etched in stone. Price is also president of the local chapter of Veterans of Foreign Wars.
“We were so careful when we compiled that list,” remembers Price, “we didn’t want anyone who lived in Culpeper to be left off if they served.”
What Price discovered was that Jenkins, who had lived in Culpeper in 1943 when he was drafted had missed their list because his paperwork was done in Washington, D.C.
During the last few months and requiring approval from the Culpeper Town Council, it was soundly recommended that George Franklin Jenkins be added to the monument.
“As it turns out, since his last name begins with a “J,” it worked out nicely,” said Price what while not in exact alphabetical order, Jenkins appears with other names ending in J.
For Pycha, it was a beautiful way to begin the day visiting one of her favorite places in Culpeper.
“I watch all the little children playing here…they are like little flowers,” said Pycha.
Members of Culpeper’s Town Council as well as members of VFW Color Guard were on hand for the quiet yet powerful moment when, thanks to the skill of Bob Clore, her brother’s name was added to the monument.
Pycha’s first husband James Garnett served in the U.S. Navy and was a member of the VFW Color Guard. Her late husband Norman Walter Pycha served in the U.S. Air Force.
She shared vivid memories of horrific stories told to her by brothers that served during the Korean War.
“They couldn’t take off their boots and they’d be knee deep in swamps and bogs,” she recalled sadly. “The skin on their feet would peel off.”
“We all need to be extremely grateful…patriotism isn’t what it used to be,” said Pycha who recalls that her brother George played the organ at Woodland Methodist Church. “He started playing when he was about four,” she said reminiscing on how her mother douted on him.
With her brother’s name added to the Homage monument, it brings to 49 the number from Culpeper who died during World War II.
“We should kiss the ground every day that the Lord planted us here,” smiled Pycha as she gazed lovingly at her brother’s name now permanently etched into history.