At its regular meeting of the American Legion Post 26 Thursday, members of the Mayfield group gave a lasting honor to the surviving daughter of a Graves County World War II Purple Heart recipient.

All it took was some detective work and a bit of cleaning.

Post 26 vice commander Ron Reavis and Disabled American Veterans members were going through old records and files at the DAV's North 15th Street location when he came across some records of Staff Sgt. Robert L. Barber.

"We were chartered in 1951 and I don't think anything had been thrown away," he said, matter-of-factly. "I was slinging stuff here and there and pulled out this certificate with some pictures."

And the information he found on Barber, a Mayfield native, painted a heroic picture.

Barber served from 1943 to 1945 at Normandy and in central Europe. Reavis, in speaking to the group gathered Thursday, went down a list of medals Barber had earned, which included European, African and Middle Eastern service medals, five Bronze Stars, Good Conduct, World War II Victory, American Service medals and a Purple Heart.

The Purple Heart was awarded after Barber was wounded on Sept. 29, 1944.

"He was a heavily decorated veteran, and the more I dug into it the more humble I became, " he said. "Not only was he a World War II veteran, he was definitely a hero."

The discovery of the Purple Heart certificate prompted Reavis to try to locate any of Barber's relatives. He reached out to local historian John Davis and mentioned Barber and his wife, Joyce. Mrs. Barber's name rang a bell.

"He said 'I think I know her,'" Reavis recalled. A little while later, Davis said he had found Brenda Nelson, the Barbers' niece.

Nelson then was able to connect Reavis to Teresa McAlpin, the Barbers' daughter. McAlpin and her husband, Gary, had recently moved back to Mayfield after a life of transfers with his service in the U.S. Army and a few decades in Missouri.

Thursday was a family celebration, of sorts. With the McAlpins were friends from Germany, Albert and Brigitte Scheuplein, who were visiting for the Labor Day holiday and who knew Gary McAlpin when he was stationed in Germany. It was also another link in a family's military chain. The McAlpins' son, Kevin, is retired Army, while another son, Jason, and daughter, Tracy, are active Air Force.

Teresa McAlpin, who was 11 years old when Barber passed away, was appreciative of the DAV and American Legion Post 26 for presenting her with the certificate, records and photographs of her father.

"It means an awful lot to me," she said. My mother and my other sisters are gone now, so those pictures, I didn't have ones like that. It's been something really nice that I really enjoyed listening to."

And for Reavis, it's the call of duty to continue to serve in some form or fashion.

"What we're trying to do with both the American Legion and DAV is to be involved in the community," he said. "The story just keeps going along."

Eric Walker is the sports editor for The Mayfield Messenger. He has also worked as a staff writer for the Messenger, editor for the Murray Ledger & Times, and in public relations. He is married with two sons.