FLORENCE, SC (WBTW) – Mourners gathered Friday in Florence to honor the memory of one of the last World War II POWs in the Pee Dee.
“It was like I met a legend,” said Wayne Kenney, president of Rolling Thunder Chapter 4. “He truly was a legend.”
It was the legend of WWII veteran Paul Rung–as big in death as in life–that brought Kenney and the rest of Rolling Thunder to Florence Memorial Cemetery Friday morning.
“He was a full member of Rolling Thunder and a World War II POW,” Kenney said.
Rung was drafted into the army and sent to fight the Nazis in Europe.
Rung and his unit got captured, and spent nine months in a Nazi prisoner of war camp. Kenney said in the short time he knew him, Rung was always humble about his service and quiet about what he saw.
“He didn’t wanna talk about his time as a POW,” remembered Kenney. “He talked to a couple of us about his time as a POW but that wasn’t where he laid his focus; he laid his focus on the living.”
Rung’s family quietly received the folded flag, a silent symbol of a life of service. 21 gunshots were fired in honor of his sacrifices.
The somber notes of taps–a final battle fought and won.
“We got to spend a lot of good time with Mr. Paul,” said Kenney. “We’re lucky to have had him.”
Rung was beloved in the Florence veteran community, and among his fellow Rolling Thunder members. I asked Wayne Kenney if Mr. Rung ever gave him any words of wisdom:
“All he ever told me was, ‘Keep doing what you’re doing,'” recalled Kenney, smiling. “So, I guess I’m doing a good job.
Paul Rung was 95.