Unsung Hero: Ken and Deb Rice

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By Ashley Smith
By Josue

PINCKNEYVILLE -- A couple originally from Perry County is helping loved ones remember fallen heroes.

"We're never gonna forget them, and we're gonna make sure nobody else ever forgets them," said Ken Rice.

From handmade buttons and dog tags to poker chips and other items, all of these items are meant to honor and remember those we've lost in the line of duty. But more than putting a face with a name, Ken and Deb Rice hope these soldiers' stories and lives are never forgotten.

"We get so much more than we give," said Deb. "If we could turn back the clock and give them their sons or daughters back, we'd gladly do that, but their friendships has meant the world to us and they're our families now."

The couple uses their own money and equipment to make the memorabilia for soldiers they never knew. They meet the families at funerals, memorial rides, or other events for fallen soldiers.

Gay Eisenhauer lost her son Wyatt in 2005. She met Ken and Deb in 2008 and says they have become part of her family.

"When somebody is doing something from their heart and has made it their mission that these fallen heroes will not be forgotten, I don't know how you can't love them," explains Gay.

Through word of mouth, more and more families are meeting Ken and Deb and keeping their loved ones close to their heart.

"Somebody else is remembering your son. It's not you or someone in your family but somebody else says 'We appreciate your service, we remember.'"

"More than anything if we can help the family whatsoever in any way at all, we want to make sure that the troops are remembered," said Ken.

The couple has been making the memorial items for over five years and estimate they have honored almost 200 fallen heroes.

"As long as we can keep putting that picture out there and making them stop and think about it, we won't let them forget," said Ken.

If you would like to contact the couple regarding a fallen hero, you can e-mail them at debbierice@yahoo.com.
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