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Gold Star son honored for paying it forward


Myles Eckert proudly wears his SAL cap and his father's dog tags. Photo by Lucas Carter

Myles Eckert found a $20 bill in the parking lot of a Cracker Barrel, wrapped it in a note and handed it to an Air National Guardsman dining with his family inside. The note read, in part, “My dad was a soldier. He’s in heaven now. We like to pay it forward in my family. It’s your lucky day! Thank you for your service.”

Paying it forward to servicemembers makes the 9-year-old Gold Star son from Waterville, Ohio, “happy, happy, happy,” he says, “because it reminds me of my dad.”

His heart-tugging story aired on CBS Evening News and whipped up a wave of social media buzz.

Army Sgt. Gary Eckert was killed in Iraq in 2005, when Myles was four weeks old. The boy says he feels “like the spirit of my dad is in me” when he wears his father’s dog tags and wedding ring around his neck, which he did May 16 when the American Legion Family of Ohio honored him alongside his mother Tiffany and 10-year-old sister Marlee during the 51st Sons of The American Legion Detachment of Ohio Convention.

“In one instant, a young man personified everything our organization is about: paying it forward to veterans,” said Jason Graven, the Department of Ohio’s internal affairs director.

Myles received an honorary lifetime SAL membership to Squadron 587 in Toledo, Ohio, and a $5,000 donation was made in his name to the Folds of Honor Foundation. He also received other gifts, including a plaque from American Legion National Commander Dan Dellinger.

“They say integrity is doing the right thing when nobody is looking,” SAL National Commander Joe Gladden said when recognizing Myles. “That’s what you did that day.”

As for the boy, the sight of a soldier always brings his dad to mind. “You should respect soldiers every day,” he said.

 

Brent Biederman

July 31, 2014 - 5:25pm

This touched a cord in me also. I am a Veteran of the USAF and Army National Guard. My father is retired (23 years) USAF WW II and Korea, My brother USN, Vietnam, Father-in law USA Korea, my other brother just retired USA a Lt. Col. I also wear their dog tags as a reminder of what they did and I also make sure other vets are thanked for what they did. I feel honored and proud for all our Veterans. We can all take a lesson for what Myles did. Way to go kid!!!!!!!!!

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