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Kosciusko Co. man transforms front yard into unique Memorial Day tribute

NOW: Kosciusko Co. man transforms front yard into unique Memorial Day tribute

CROMWELL, Ind. - A man in Kosciusko County is thanking those who serve with more than a smile and a handshake this Memorial Day.

Gary Bates has been building his own tribute for 13 years in his own front yard with G.I. Joes.

“It’s a collection that me and my grandkids had gotten together, and some of it’s original G.I. Joe stuff that me and my brothers used to play with," said Bates.

Among the figures are one soldier playing taps and seven helmets Bate stuck in the ground to represent his family members and close friends who served.

Some of the Joes date back to 1964.

“it’s just my way of showing appreciation to the vets," said Bates.

“I just appreciate him to honor veterans and the fallen," said Army vet Gary "Chief" Duran.

Duran served as a sniper in the military, so Bates hid several among the bushes lining his yard where visitors might not see them.

"Chief" says he saw things overseas that most folks would never want to hear. 

“We had a 23-man team in the special forces. Four of us come back home...Cant’ describe it because it’s a brotherhood. You eat together, you sleep together, you bond together, every man’s got their own job. When you lose one, you lose part of your heart, no replacement," said Duran.

But, he says the honorary boots on the ground are a good tribute to those who didn't make it back with him.

“It was my honor. I did it so people like you and everybody else didn’t have to go," said "Chief."

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