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Boone County Soldier Killed in Vietnam to Have Part of Road Named for Him

Nearly fifty years after he was killed in the Vietnam War, Boone County native Charles Fleek will be honored in his hometown of Petersburg.

Sgt. "Chalkie" Fleek threw himself on a grenade in 1969, dying after absorbing the blast, and saving the lives of at least eight of his fellow soldiers. He was 21 years old. He was later posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.

A section of Kentucky Route 20 in Petersburg will be dedicated the Sgt. Charles ‘Chalkie’ Fleek Memorial Highway during a ceremony at 9 a.m. on Aug. 17 at the Petersburg Community Center. The public is invited to attend. Immediately after the dedication, a wreath will be placed at Sgt. Fleek’s grave at the nearby Petersburg Cemetery.

“Charles Fleek is a hero to us all here in Boone County,” said Judge/Executive Gary Moore. “With this sign dedication, it ensures that his heroic action lives on for future generations to honor and remember.”

Officials are asking anyone who personally knew or served with Sgt. Fleek to contact them.

“Sgt. Fleek was known in Petersburg as a normal boy that liked to hunt and fish with his buddies on the riverbank of the Ohio,” said Sen. John Schickel (R-Union), who sponsored legislation in the 2018 General Assembly to rename the highway. “He left school to work and became a volunteer firefighter with the Petersburg Fire Department. Locals still recall how Sgt. Fleek would do anything he could to help you – even as a kid.”

Sgt. Fleek was killed during a fierce battle on May 28, 1969, in Binh Duong Province. It was during an ambush operating that Fleek’s unit encountered a large enemy force, which began to withdraw when they sensed the ambush. According to the Medal of Honor citation, Fleek opened fire as the enemy began to withdraw.

A battle ensued and Sgt. Fleek, a squad leader, saw the grenade that landed among his men. At least eight soldiers near him hadn’t. He warned them and immediately threw himself on the grenade. “His gallant action undoubtedly saved the lives of prevented the injury of at least eight of his fellow soldiers,” the citation states.

The Medal of Honor is the highest award given by the United States for valor in battle against an enemy. So far, 3,502 have been awarded since it became a decoration in 1863. There are no others from Boone County.

-Staff report

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