By Lasca Randels
WARSAW — Ken “Hawkeye” Locke was one of three veterans honored as Veteran of the Month by Kosciusko County Commissioners in June.
The commissioners made the decision to honor two veterans, Locke and Larry Hollar Sr., at their June 23 meeting since they were unable to do the veteran presentations during the stay-at-home order. Earlier this month, Gary Ringler received recognition as Veteran of the Month at the commissioners’ June 9 meeting.
Locke was born and raised in Marshalltown, Iowa.
His ancestors served in the Armed Forces of the U.S. during the American Revolution as well as in every major conflict since that time.
His mother was a Rosie the Riveter.
One of the most significant events in Locke’s life was when his boyhood friend and fellow Eagle Scout, Lance Corporal Darwin L. Judge was killed in action during the fall of Saigon.
Judge, along with Marine Corporal Charles McMahon, of Woburn, Mass., were the last two Americans killed in Vietnam on April 29, 1975.
Locke was a senior in high school that year. After graduation, he enlisted in the United States Army.
In November 1975, Locke entered basic training in Fort Leonard Wood, Mo. He did his advanced infantry training at Fort Wadsworth, N.Y.
In 1976, Locke completed chaplain assistant training. His first orders took him to Fort Stewart, Ga.
The post chaplain at that time told his staff that the next soldier to come through the door who was over 6 feet tall would be his personal assistant.
Enter Locke — who ended up working on many activities of the Chaplain Corps on the base.
After almost two years of service, Locke was transferred to Hunter Army Airfield outside of Savannah, Ga., where he worked with the post chaplain and religious education director.
Locke achieved the rank of SP4 and completed his military commitment. In November 1979 he was honorably discharged.
He then entered the Officer’s Training School of the Salvation Army, eventually becoming an officer (pastor).
Locke moved to Warsaw in June 1988 and became director of the Salvation Army for Kosciusko County.
“I was so fortunate to serve my country during a time of peace,” Locke said. “I have a special place in my heart for veterans, especially those who served in harm’s way.”
Locke said he watched his father bear the scars of war and lost his friend, who gave the ultimate sacrifice for liberty.
“Our freedom has been secured by great men and women throughout our history who have served when our nation called,” Locke said. “I am humbled and honored to be a veteran.”
Locke is a member of American Legion Post 49, AMVETS 2919 and the Anthony Halberstadt Chapter, Sons of the American Revolution and co-director of Kosciusko Honor & Remember.
He often reminds people that “Freedom isn’t free.”
Locke and his wife, Sina, are directors at the Salvation Army, serving Whitley and Kosciusko counties. They have a blended family that consists of seven children and 11 grandchildren.