East Lansing Honors Korea Vet

The weather outside was rainy and cold, but the people who gathered at the Hannah Community Center in East Lansing didn't seem to mind.

In fact, many said they wouldn't want it any other way.

"Being out in the rain today was cold, frigid, wet, and I think sometimes we think it should be a nice, solemn occasion on a bright sunny day," said East Lansing Mayor Diane Goddeeris. "But then you realize this is just a little tiny taste of what these service men and women do for our country."

Scores of people sat outside on Veterans Day to pay tribute to one particular East Lansing hero.

Reserve 2nd Lt. Sherrod Skinner Jr., lost his life in 1952, fighting in the Korean War. His outpost was attacked and he and his men defended, many times leaving the protection of their bunker. When ammunition ran out and defeat was inevitable, Skinner instructed his men to feign death.

Later, when an enemy grenade entered the bunker, Skinner threw himself on top of it, shielding his men from the blast but losing his life in the process.

His actions earned him a Medal of Honor -- the country's highest distinction for military service.

"He was recognized for his conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty," said East Lansing Mayor Pro-Tem Nathan Triplett.

To further recognize Skinner's heroism, the city unveiled a memorial, featuring his picture and recounting his story.

"The community needed to do this," said Rotary Club Community Service Chair Pat Boog. "There's so few medal of honor recipients out there, only two in the greater Lansing area and I thought it was something East Lansing should have."

The project cost approximately $25,000 and took a year to construct. The city plans to expand the memorial to include a garden and a display that honors all of East Lansing's veterans.

Virginia Perry went to East Lansing High School with Skinner and called the memorial a fitting tribute.

"This is so significant for the memories," she said. "He was a wonderful young man.

"I thought it was the best ending for his sacrifice. To have pictures here wasn't quite the same. But that will be permanent and people can read what actually happened out there."

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