GOLDTHWAITE — Nearly 100 years after his death due to wounds received in action, Pvt. Virgil C. Lacey was paid homage by the Defense Department in the small Central Texas town of Goldthwaite, tucked away in the Hill Country.

On Jan. 11, Brig. Gen. Clark W. LeMasters Jr., commander of 13th Sustainment Command, presented a Purple Heart award to Leon Lacey, nephew of the deceased American soldier who lost his life valiantly fighting for his country during World War I operations in France. The nephew is a World War II veteran.

Also on hand and speaking during the quaint ceremony inside the historic Mills County courthouse, was Sandy Edwards, representing U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas.

Lacey fought and served with Charlie Company, 16th Infantry Regiment, 1st Infantry Brigade, 1st Infantry Division. The 16th Infantry Regiment is still an active unit at Fort Riley, Kan.

On this day, however, with about 50 friends and four generations of family members, along with local community leaders, this presentation was long overdue.

Barbara Carmon, niece of the deceased private, spent several months working with the Department of the Army and Cornyn’s office in finding accurate information on what the family’s beloved uncle and grandfather had earned during his brief time serving his country.

Cornyn wrote a letter to the Department of the Army to aid in the family’s endeavor which proved to be extremely helpful.

After accepting the award on behalf of his uncle, Lacey spoke briefly about the lineage of the family, thanking the community for their support as well.

“This is special,” the 86-year-old Lacey said. “Sorry that he had to do it, along with many others, sacrificed so that we might be here today as a free nation, free individuals and persons that can serve and live in this country.”

Following the ceremony, the elder Laceys hosted friends and family once again, opening their doors to their home to celebrate the day.

They welcomed LeMasters to share the same fellowship and Texas barbecue as friends, not strangers. Within the house were several historical Texas and worldly artifacts from Lacey’s travels prior to retirement.

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