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story.lead_photo.caption Ann Rackers assists her husband, David Rackers, on July 16, 2019, as he signs copies of the book "For Military Merit" at the Missouri River Regional Library. David is a Purple Heart Medal recipient for his service in the U.S. Army. Photo by Julie Smith / News Tribune.

Approaching 90, David Rackers' right hand shook as he wrote his name and branch of service in stacks of books at the Missouri River Regional Library last week.

He used his left hand to hold it a little steadier.

In a deep voice, speaking slowly, he talked about shrapnel hitting him in a hip while he served on the front lines in the Korean War.

Ann, his wife of 63 years, sat by his side and encouraged him to finish his job, signing the books.

All local military veterans who have received the Purple Heart Medal have been asked to participate in a celebration of their service and a fundraiser for Central Missouri Honor Flight and Operation Bugle Boy. The medal recipients are asked to sign each of 30 hardback copies of the book "For Military Merit: Recipients of the Purple Heart."

The books are available for signing 9 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Friday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday and 1-5 p.m. Sunday at the library, 214 Adams St. in Jefferson City.

Rackers is one of fewer than a dozen who had signed the books as of Tuesday morning.

Rackers' injury came before he met Ann, his future wife. However, he had told her about his situation.

"After he recovered, they sent him back to the front line again," Ann said. "I said, 'How'd you have the courage to do that again?'"

As she spoke, Rackers continued to write. He wasn't given a choice to return, he said.

Rackers said he received basic training in Hawaii and spent most of his time in the service overseas.

During the battle in which he was injured, he said, survival was not certain.

"There were more of them than there were of us," he explained.

John Stafford, who served as a U.S. Marine in Vietnam, remembers the exact day he was injured — July 19, 1969.

"It was the day before the moon landing," Stafford said.

Stafford gave some details of his experience.

His fire team was on a hill outside Da Nang, Vietnam.

"We got hit at about 9 o'clock that night, and we fought all the way to daylight," Stafford recalled. "We lost a few guys, and they lost a few guys."

The men are among more than 1 million men and women having received the award since its creation in 1932. A combat decoration, the award is given to members of the U.S. Armed Forces who received wounds by instruments of war at the hands of the enemy. It is also awarded to next of kin in the name of those who are killed in action or who die of their wounds.

Beginning on Veterans Day (Nov. 11), the books will be available for purchase (for $100 each) at Samuel's Tuxedos and Gifts, 236 E. High St. in Jefferson City. Each book will come with an alphabetized list of the name, branch, rank and time in service of each Purple Heart recipient who has signed it.

Proceeds from the sales are to benefit Central Missouri Honor Flight, which provides selected veterans with flights to Washington, D.C., to visit military service memorials, and to Operation Bugle Boy's Veterans Appreciation Night. Operation Bugle Boy recognizes and honors veterans, soldiers and first responders.

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