Family and friends remembered Willie Prater as a simple man.
Staff Sergeant Prater served in World War II, the Korean War, fought on the beaches of Normandy, and in the Battle of the Bulge.
Friends say Prater possibly earned more medals and awards than any other vet in Pike County and possibly the state of Kentucky.
WYMT's Dara Rees spoke with Prater's family about his desire to serve his community and help other veterans.
Willie Prater entered the military at age 16, but the army thought he was 18, when he applied using his brother's social security number.
“I'm not sure what battle it was when he got wounded, but they found out in the hospital that he had lied about his age and had gotten in, and they wanted to send him back home and he didn't want to go, so they let him stay,” Daughter Sharon Holland said.
During World War II, Prater was missing in action for 10 days behind enemy lines.
“He took one of the of the enemy's uniforms and wore it to go through them to get back to his men,” Greg Prater said.
Prater served 9 years in the United States Army and received nearly 100 medals and awards.
Prater helped dozens of veterans receive pensions and compensations for their military service, and even helped some receive medals they earned overseas.
“If he were here, he'd be telling everybody to think of the boys fighting in the war now, and pray for our leaders, pray for our boys, take care of our country,” Holland said.
Staff Sgt. Willie Prater's memory lives on through his family. Even the youngest know how to salute like Papaw.
Staff Sergeant Willie Prater died of lung cancer.
He was 80 years old.