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Veteran honored for service to other veterans

Muskogee Phoenix - 1/7/2021

Jan. 7—FORT GIBSON — Two pairs of footwear were placed by Paul McKinstry's flag-draped bier at Fort Gibson National Cemetery.

New Hope Assembly of God Pastor Anthony Roe noted those shoes when he spoke at McKinstry's funeral Wednesday morning.

"He wore those shoes many times at New Hope and around the community," Roe said. "I took note of his shoes when he was trying to work with the mayor and city council to honor our veterans."

He recalled carrying those shoes out of the hospital the day McKinstry died Dec. 17, at the age of 66.

"I looked down at that bag and I saw those shoes and I saw Muskogee, and I said 'God, raise up someone who can love this town like Paul McKinstry. God, would you fill these shoes," the pastor said.

Several dozen veterans gathered around the National Cemetery committal shelter, many standing in the cold morning air, to honor McKinstry, an Army National Guard medic and veteran.

"It is noted that you loved this man and you love this country," Roe said. "And we want to thank you and honor you today because Paul would certainly want that."

McKinstry's obituary noted that he spent part of his life homeless. Upon overcoming his situation, he vowed to take care of homeless veterans. A member of American Legion Post 15, McKinstry hosted the annual Hotdogs and Heroes picnics.

One of his final acts before he died was to host a clothing giveaway for veterans and others in need.

Roe said he couldn't think of anyone as passionate about honoring veterans as McKinstry.

"We're here today because someone loved their God and their community and people in general so well," Roe said. "And that person was Paul McKinstry."

Muskogee Mayor Marlon Coleman recalled McKinstry as "a lover of people."

"Paul was not limited in his capacity of just serving veterans, Paul served his community," Coleman said, exhorting family and others at the funeral to "become his legacy."

McKinstry was honored with a three rifle volley and "Taps."

Nancy Ellis of the American Legion Auxiliary said McKinstry was "always on the go."

"He can't stop. He kept going," she said.


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