Replacing purple heart top priority
Kathy Todd's eyes brim with tears when she thinks of the fire.
On Oct. 7, flames destroyed her mother's house and nearly everything in it. Her mother, Pat Todd, and a brother and sister, Sam Todd and Susan Todd, lived three miles north of Tonganoxie. Fortunately, no one was hurt.
The ordeal has thrown the family's life in turmoil. It will be months before they'll be able to rebuild.
And perhaps most tragically to Kathy, the fire destroyed the things that most represented her father, Floyd Todd. These included his Purple Heart and two other military awards, his military papers, the flag given to her mother, Pat Todd, at his funeral, and even his retirement clock from General Motors.
Kathy is on a mission to replace these things that represent their father. Already, a new clock from General Motors is on its way, she said.
That leaves the military, which played a huge role in his life, Kathy said.
"I know that the war haunted him," Kathy said. "It left bad memories for him. He had some friends killed when he was there."
In fact, Floyd Todd, who served in the U.S. Army from 1952 to 1955, nearly died in battle.
Todd, a U.S. Army veteran of the Korean War, was wounded when struck by a bullet during a battle on Pork Chop Hill, in North Korea.
"The bullet hit the hill and ricocheted and came back and shot him in the back," said Pat, who married Floyd in 1956.
Yet Todd recovered and stayed in the service until 1955, when he nearly died from malaria.
Although his military experiences were anything but pleasant, Pat said her husband was proud to have served his country.
"But he was also happy to be back home," Pat added.
To Floyd, Pat said, the military honors weren't all that important.
"He didn't consider himself to be a hero," Pat said. "He was just serving his country."
But to his children, Floyd Todd will always be a hero.
Kathy describes her father as a man who liked to play the guitar, who was fun to be around.
"All I can say is, my dad as a good man," Kathy said. "You just don't find good men like him nowadays."
Kathy said that after her father died, she was comforted by the sight of his military medals and flag which were always on display in her mother's house.
Tonganoxie Veterans of Foreign Wars commander Larry Meadows said he will work to make sure the medals are replaced. The new medals will be given to Floyd's widow, Pat, Meadows said.
And this week, Kathy applied for a new burial flag to replace the one that burned.
Flags always meant a lot to her father, Kathy said, noting he always flew a flag from a pole near their house. This is a tradition his family continued after he was gone.
It was ironic, said Pat, that while her house burned to the ground, the flag on the pole nearby survived.
"Oddly enough, it stood flying all the time the fire was burning," Pat said.