Clay County woman receives father's service awards

Barbara Kirkman surprised with father's honors

ORANGE PARK, Fla. – Service records for Barbara Kirkman's father have been missing for more than three decades, but Monday all of that changed when the Kirkmans finally received the honors from their father's service during World War II.

"The most vivid thing I remember was his funeral. That military funeral with the 21-gun salute and it scared me to death," said Kirkman. "I remember my mother holding my brother and propping him up to place a rose on his coffin when they took the flag off."

Former Clay County Supervisor of Elections Barbara Kirkman said her father's World War II service records, including his veteran status and the fact that he was a Purple Heart recipient, had been missing for more than 30 years.

Monday with a little help from Congressman Ted Yoho, Kirkman and her family received her father's honors.

"I am just glad that my children and grandchildren will finally know something of my dad," said Kirkman.

Thanks to Yoho and his staff, Kirkman was surprised Monday with eight medals, all of which belonged to her father, Alexander Rulkiewicz, who was an Army staff sergeant during World War II.

Kirkman said she tried for 30 years to get her father's service records and after hitting multiple road blocks she finally reached out to Yoho's office for help.

"We want to make sure that other veterans, that if they have situations like this, talk to their congressman. They can get this resolved. They deserve the recognition," said Yoho.

Yoho's staff members, including Dorothy Richardson, worked tirelessly to get Rulkiewicz's records and finally was able to figure out what happened to the missing military records.

"Most of the files were missing because they were burned in a fire in '73. We actually found out that he actually had appendicitis while he was in the military, so one piece of paper was pulled out and sent over to the St. Pete office and that's how we were able to track down some of the information that he was due these medals," said Richardson.