Sullivan County Democrat
Callicoon, New York
January 22, 2010 Issue
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Dan Hust | Democrat

Boy Scout Brent McKeon hands Preston Kortright’s flag to the Kortright family after it was lowered on Wednesday during the Veterans Day ceremony in Grahamsville.

One flag lowered, another raised for locals who gave all

By Dan Hust
GRAHAMSVILLE — By way of introduction, Polly Hill asked attendees of Wednesday’s biannual Flag Exchange to raise their right hands if they are members of the Kortright family.
More than a dozen hands shot up around the Grahamsville Rural Cemetery.
Then she asked the audience to raise their left hands if they are members of the Akerley family.
A dozen more hands shot up, some attached to the same people who had raised their right hands.
“This is truly an extended family community,” Hill happily assessed.
And it happened to be that the family of the late Preston Kortright was accepting the flag flown in his honor over the cemetery since Memorial Day, while the family of the late Dennis Akerley provided a flag to be flown in his honor until the next Memorial Day.
Both Town of Neversink residents, Kortright served with the 5th Army Air Corps in World War II, and Akerley – for whom the local VFW post is named – served with the Army’s 101st Airborne Division in Vietnam.
Kortright’s story had been told in May. Akerley’s was revealed on Wednesday by an emotional Kathy Akerley, who told of his death by way of a booby trap in October 1969, one month after reporting for duty.
He was just 20.
His Army buddies wrote the family a letter after his death, speaking of the “amiable and quiet man” who “was always ready with a helping hand.”
“We will remember him as the best friend a guy could have,” they concluded.
Standing near Akerley’s grave, the new American flag fluttering in the breeze, all of Grahamsville remembered him 40 years later – and promised, as a family, to never forget.

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