Rebecca Breedlove has a special place in her heart for veterans.
The 54-year-old woman has given talks as a Civil War re-enactor for more than a decade. So when the opportunity came to honor living veterans she sees each week, she took it.
Breedlove began research for a college degree in U.S. history after her sight began to slip away, and her focus of study has been America's wars.
While taking cardiac physical therapy at the Chattanooga Heart Institute at Memorial Hospital, she met three men who served in the Korean War -- Joe Myers, James Durham and Walter Ruby.
"I am proud to honor and give them recognition," she said.
She interviewed the men for research papers on the war, learning Myers had served in the U.S. Army's 1st Raider Company under Gen. Douglas MacArthur, Durham saw fighting with the Army's 4th Infantry Division and Ruby faced combat as a U.S. Navy corpsman, attending to wounded Marines.
With a few phone calls to the Veterans of Foreign Wars headquarters in Kansas City, Mo., she obtained framed letters of commendation and presented those to the men at their Thursday cardiac therapy meeting.
As stationary bicycle fans whirred and elderly patients pumped out reps on weight machines, Breedlove toasted the men with white plastic cups of juice after handing over the letters.
Myers, 82, told the audience of a few dozen patients he appreciated the recognition, noting that he'd experienced an ungrateful public and a woman spitting on him after he returned home.
Durham, a three-time heart-attack survivor, had a subdued response when asked about the recognition after the short ceremony.
"A little recognition ... sometimes it makes you feel like you don't really deserve it because there's people who had it a lot worse than I ever had it," he said.
Todd South covers courts, poverty, technology, military and veterans for the Times Free Press. He has worked at the paper since 2008 and previously covered crime and safety in Southeast Tennessee and North Georgia. Todd’s hometown is Dodge City, Kan. He served five years in the U.S. Marine Corps and deployed to Iraq before returning to school for his journalism degree from the University of Georgia. Todd previously worked at the Anniston (Ala.) Star. Contact ...