A group of neighbors in Georgetown, Texas just did something really cool for a local World War II veteran. An amazing 73 years after Sgt. Merlin Hoppe joined the U.S. Army, his community raised the American flag in his honor.
Locals Lynn and Eduardo Raya helped organize the ceremony for the 91-year-old Hoppe, who has quite the story. For starters, Hoppe served under legendary Gen. George Patton. He battled Hitler's troops on the Rhine River.
"As they went down, his boat was hit twice by machine guns and 50 caliber guns that were mounted on tanks," Raya told FOX 7 News. "Around 5 a.m. Sgt. Hoppe was hit in the shoulder and the friend that was sitting beside him was killed."
Hoppe took several more bullets before his friends hid him in a nearby barn. He then waited nearly three days for medical help. Hoppe received a Silver Medal, Bronze Medal and Purple Heart for his service. But Georgetown locals thought he deserved local love, too.
So they organized a special event. Representatives from the military raised a U.S. flag over the town in his honor as Hoppe and the community watched on.
Though Hoppe had to watch from the car (since he recently suffered a stroke), his granddaughter Amy Gallagher says she knows it meant the world to him.
"He can't show it, but I know he's completely overwhelmed," Gallagher said. "It's a really proud moment for our family." As Hoppe watches and the crowd sings the national anthem, he gives a thumb's up.
Hoppe currently resides in a nursing home, and Raya didn't even expect him to make it out. So him watching on from a car was more than she expected.
Georgetown sits about 30 minutes north of Austin. Though near a booming metropolis, the city keeps a tight-knit local community, so it's no surprise they got together for the cool moment.