Senior Chief Petty Officer, USN (Ret) Paul Rizzo, Scribe for the NCOA Knights of the Square Table, presents NCOA’s World War Veterans Medallion signifying Honor and Remembrance to World War II veteran Petty Officer “Mac” Plecker along with 9 other military decorations.
Photos by: Chris Hopper, Reporter, Bay News 9
A man who put his life in danger for the greater good of his country finally received the honor he deserves. World War II veteran Petty Officer “Mac” Plecker, 94, was a prisoner of war for four years after his group was overwhelmed on Wake Island in 1941. Plecker’s awards request paperwork was lost years ago. He never really mentioned it to anyone, but when his caretakers at the Palms of Largo got word they made sure to right this wrong.
Former Congressman Mike Bilirakis was on hand to present a flag to Plecker that was flown over the Capitol in the veteran’s honor. Representative Bilirakis wanted a local uniformed U.S. Navy Petty Officer to actually pin the awards on Plecker and tasked Sir Paul Rizzo to do so. Sir Paul also presented NCOA’s WWII Medallion to this deserving Veteran.
Plecker’s daughter, Mary Gerrity, felt a wave of emotion as her father came face to face with those medals for the first time. “It means the world,” Gerrity said. “That’s just something I know he deserves. This was just really wonderful.”
The magnitude of this day was not lost on Plecker either. “I’ve looked around as the ceremonies have gone on here and people have drawn tears and that means something too, people really do care,” he said. Plecker plans to display the medals in a frame so he can look at them whenever he wants.
Also participating were NCOA past Grand Knight, Sir Richard Steinberg, his PTSD Service dog Kira, and their local Patriot Guard Riders group. They were given the mission to assist with the ceremony’s flag line.