Sidney, Iowa veteran restores military graves by hand

Published: Jul. 31, 2020 at 6:37 PM CDT
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SIDNEY, Iowa (WOWT) - Forty years ago, Novie White retired from active duty as an Air Force captain, but the 76-year-old gave himself a lifetime mission.

“I’m a veteran taking care of my fellow brothers who served honorably,” he said.

Nearly 600 veterans who are buried in the Sidney cemetery have a medallion commemorating the wars in which they fought.

Time has taken its toll on rusting symbols of service, but White has a strategy to have them all stand tall and shine again.

It’s a home concoction of white vinegar and salt. The medallions come out clean after about four hours of soaking.

Wrapping each in tinfoil is White’s not-so-secret solution.

“A cleaning battery activity and I got this off the DIY channel on the internet,” he said.

White has restored medallions honoring veterans from the War of 1812, the Spanish-American War and both World Wars.

He attaches a red painted pipe which warns cemetery mowers where each one stands.

After years in military and public service, White is still hard at work spending long hours restoring the medallions that honor those who fought for their country.

“This medallion and stake are going to stand tall 20 years from now,” he said.

White hopes the mission will live out the man.

“Hopefully when I’m gone, someone else will come out here and continue to take on the task,” he said.

White said he’s restored about 200 medallions so far this year and he’s spent more than 20 hours a week on the project since March.

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