Pauls Valley, OK, Pauls Valley Democrat

Local News

November 11, 2012

Veterans to get one big salute — One big salute is on the way for military veterans with one special look back in particular for Pauls Valley students and the general public.

The special program in observation of Veterans Day is set for an 11 a.m. start Monday, Nov. 12 at the Pauls Valley High School auditorium.

Mary Johnson, the school’s counselor, teamed with Chad Chronister to put together a program not only meant to honor the service of America’s veterans but reveal the forgotten story of a PV grad whose actions made him a hero before he was killed in World War II.

That special story centers around John Roscoe Durkee Jr., a graduate of PVHS back in 1932.

Durkee enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1942 and served as a first lieutenant and the pilot of a U.S. observation and spotter plane.

He was killed in France a couple of months after the Allied invasion known as D-Day.

When she learned of Durkee’s story Johnson said it was obvious to her this is a story that needs to be told.

“It was kind of like he was almost forgotten,” Johnson said.

“When I found all this out I thought we should honor him,” she said. “I thought it was terrible and sad that nobody knew his story.

“So, I thought we ought to recognize him at this veterans’ program; say something to our students and let them know about this man. I thought it would be nice to honor him.”

Johnson found out about Durkee’s story when an author, Mary Anne Hanthorn, once contacted her looking for a picture of Durkee. As it turns out Durkee and Hanthorn’s father had served in the same unit during the war.

The search to find out more about Durkee wasn’t easy. With help from local historian Adrienne Grimmett and the public library more was learned, such as Durkee’s senior photo published in the Pauls Valley Democrat.

His school transcript showed Durkee not only was a PV graduate in 1932 but attended high school here all four years. He also played on the Panther football team.

Durkee’s father had once owned a grocery store on one of PV’s main streets at a site that’s now a vacant lot.

The story of Durkee’s death, as told to Johnson, starts with the day he once received a distress call from a fellow pilot as both took to the air behind enemy lines to scout out the movements of German soldiers in occupied France.

It was early August 1944 as Allied troops were flooding into France before eventually freeing the country from German occupation.

After the distress call the one pilot was forced to land his plane in a pasture because it had run out of gas. Durkee followed and landed his plane only yards away.

With both pilots on the ground Durkee had brought a can full of gas to get the other plane going and back to safe territory.

As it turned out the pasture was surrounded by a German encampment as enemy soldiers began firing at the two American soldiers.

The first pilot managed to get his plane up in the air and fly to safety, while Durkee wasn’t so lucky. Before he could get into his plane he was shot and killed by German soldiers near Evra, France.

Durkee was buried there in France, where he and a couple of soldiers in the French Resistance were together later honored for their service. Durkee was later posthumously awarded the Purple Heart and Silver Star.

As for Monday’s program at PVHS, local veteran Bob Martin is expected to address the crowd.

“All veterans are invited to come to the program,” Johnson added.

“We honor all the veterans at this.”

Text Only
Local News
  • PV Easter Weekend 2014 Easter weekend egg hunts in PV


    April 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Footloose Fest offers a full day for visitors

    The tradition that has made Elmore City a household name, The Footloose Festival, is set to bring its signature event back for a fourth year.

    April 24, 2014

  • Earth Day Recycling Anniversary Recycling fun for Earth Day

    Tips on living healthy, conservation and even plastic water bottles were flying all over this week as Pauls Valley’s new recycling center celebrated its first ever birthday.

    April 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Unicycle fun one more time

    A class teaching kids and adults alike how to ride a unicycle is about to make a second go around here in Pauls Valley.

    April 23, 2014

  • Arbor Week Honor Tree honor runs deep

    Maysville’s grade school was a good place for some learning, namely about trees as students and others gathered Monday to celebrate one of their own taking the top prize in a statewide Arbor Week contest.

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Community rallying around teen

    Waging a war against cancer has always included support not just for those afflicted, but for loved ones impacted by the disease.

    April 22, 2014

  • Relay for Life Treats Tasty Treats Help Relay for Life


    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • BrickFest, Hero Day to join forces

    The wait is finally over and the news is looking good for a BrickFest event this year in Pauls Valley.

    April 21, 2014

  • Visions big for local food pantry

    Board members for a Pauls Valley food pantry now have their plans in place for yet another holiday tradition later this year.

    April 21, 2014

  • Worker safety focus of area event

    Bringing people together for some family fun and a serious message is a way for a couple of Wynnewood and Pauls Valley widows to honor their late husbands.

    April 21, 2014

Business Marquee

  • How You Want It When You Want It Today's Pauls Valley Democrat

    Now you can view and download the Democrat right to your desktop on the day the paper is published. Click here to get more information on the Democrat's e-Edition.





    e-mail request to

    April 20, 2011 1 Photo 1 Link

AP Video