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East Texans mourn well known veteran

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An East Texas man known as a champion for veteran issues has passed away.  Vietnam veteran William Perkins of Longview is remembered as the ultimate patriot. Flags at the VFW 1183 fly at half staff remembering the man who everyone knew as 'Perk'.

"I've been knowing Perk since 1958. William was the type of person , he was a father figure to a lot of men. When he was in Vietnam , he was a father figure to a lot of the kids over there. Veterans would tell him a hard luck story and he would reach into his pocket and give them 100, 200 dollars," says fellow Vietnam veteran and longtime friend Don Kinsey.   

Perkins died last night after a battle with cancer. But leaves behind a memory no one will forget.

"He had a presence about him. He would come up to you and let you know that he was your brother, and that you were welcome and you had a home," says fellow Vietnam veteran Marvin Ray Gibson. 

Perkins established VFW post 1183 in Longview, and never turned is back on a veteran. He helped start and commanded the Vietnam veterans of America 987 chapter and was a tireless worker for veterans issues. Perkins called all Vietnam veterans brothers.

"When he said brother, you were his brother. He spoke from the heart," says Kinsey.  

He said to others,  he left part of himself in Vietnam. And never forgot to help those who suffered the same.

"A lot of us are still there we haven't come home yet. He was struggling everyday to come back. Anybody he could , he would help. There's a lot of soldiers left on the battlefield that were fondly brothers to him and he still remembers them," Gibson says. 

Perkins was 68.

"I can't put it into words how much I'm going to miss him," Kinsey says.

A funeral service for William Perkins is set for Monday in Longview at Grace Hill cemetery at 10 am.

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