Veteran Leo Comstock flew 16 missions for the U.S. Navy on a torpedo plane before being gunned down and later rescued at sea during World War II while serving aboard the USS Randolph in the South Pacific. But after 20 years of military service, Comstock's legacy continued on, with his three sons following in their father's footsteps by serving their country.
Comstock, along with his three sons, Gary Comstock, a U.S. Army Vietnam veteran, Rick Comstock, who served with the U.S. Army from 1977-1980 and retired U.S. Army Lt. Col. Steve Comstock, who served from 1975-2011, were among about 30 veterans in attendance during a special ceremony honoring service members Saturday at the Fort Scott Livestock Market. The Comstocks have given a combined 79 years of service to their country, and on Saturday stood with their peers to be recognized by an appreciative crowd.
The event was the brainchild of organizer Lafe Wilson.
Wilson, a 30-year patron of the livestock market, began organizing the event in July to honor those who have served.
"It's never been done here," Wilson said. "I just thought we needed to honor the guys who have sacrificed."
Wlson said when he first started organizing the event, he wanted it to be a surprise.
"We wanted to keep it a secret, but it just got so big," Wilson said. "We just wanted to honor the guys that stood up and served their country and said, 'Yes, I will.'"
Debbie Martin read from a list of more than 50 names, including Davis (Butch) Hall, who gave the ultimate sacrifice in 2004 while serving the U.S. Army in Afghanistan; Keith Daniels, who flew 35 bombing missions as a B-24 Liberator tailgunner in WW II; Jake Underwood, who was taken as a prisoner of war after the Battle of the Bulge in 1944; Lewis Williams, who flew 17 missions in WW II before being shot down, captured and taken prisoner at Stalag 4 near Prussia; and Bill Danley, who helped liberate prisoners at the Dachau Concentration Camp at the end of WW II. Also in attendance was former Sen. Bob Marshall, who served from in the U.S. Army as a pilot from 1960-1965 and the U.S. Army Reserves from 1965-1991.
Martin also chose a quote from Gene Castagnetti, director of the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, to pay tribute to the area's veterans:
"A veteran is someone who wrote a blank check payable to the United States of America for an amount up to and including his life."