Thousands of NRA members crowded into the Thomas Murphy Ballroom at the Georgia World Congress Center Thursday night April 27, 2017 to get the 2017 NRA Annual Meetings & Exhibits started a little early with the 25th National NRA Foundation Banquet.
As has become almost a tradition, Anthony Imperato, president of Henry Repeating Arms, paid respect to a few American heroes by bestowing Tribute Edition rifles to each veteran. This year’s recipients included one of a dwindling number of World War II veterans, helping to save the world from an “unspeakable evil,” Imperato said.
You might have seen “Saving Private Ryan,” Imperato said, and for many Americans it might have been a good movie, and indeed offered a couple hours of escape from life, but for George Krakosky, slogging through Europe’s beaches was reality. Krakosky, a 97-year-old from Gettysburg, Pa., was drafted in the wake of Pearl Harbor in 1941. Soon thereafter, he found himself stationed in England until Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower went searching for some of the Army’s top marksmen. From the relatively safe haven in England, Krakosky was put on a ship and sent east.
Krakosky stumbled upon the skeletal remains of a burned out church in Europe, and he spied the glint of something in the rubble. It was a metal cross that he has since worn on a chain around his neck every day since those troubled times, Imperato said, in recounting the family-provided biographical sketch.
His fellow recipients of Henry Tribute Rifles included:
Linda Becker, who served 39 years in the U.S. Air Force/Air National Guard, earning various commendations, most notably being named senior NCO of the year in 2010. Becker called serving a tour at the mortuary in Dover, Del., where the remains of those killed in action are received, the most difficult six months of her career. She said she cried the day she left because she wondered “who will care for them now?”
Don Jenkins, who joined the Army and served in Vietnam, putting his wounded body in the line of fire several times to rescue his fellow soldiers, despite the fact that his unit was under heavy enemy attack. The intrepid actions came when he was just a private first class, and they earned him the Medal of Honor. “Ignoring the continuing intense fire and his painful wounds, and hindered by darkness, he made three trips to the beleaguered unit, each time pulling a wounded comrade back to safety,” the citation read.
Ty Carter served in the Marine Corps and the Army, with tours in Afghanistan. With an estimated 300 enemy fighters surrounding his unit, Carter ran twice through a barrage of enemy fire to get more ammunition for his comrades and defended the isolate position, beating back the Afghans with only an M4, and earning the Medal of Honor.
Aside from witnessing those presentations, members enjoyed a dinner, raffles and auctions.
Games of chance included a table of guns drawing, where all the people seated at one table won a Taurus T4SA rifle. Kimber and Smith & Wesson sponsored “winner-takes-all” raffles, where people could buy a chance to win an array of handguns. And Weatherby, Colt and Winchester Ammunition also conducted raffles.
Hundreds of items were available for a silent auction, and about 30 others were up for post-dinner bidding.
It was truly a night that will be remembered by all.