KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Marine combat veteran Larry Winters devoted his life to serving others right up until his death at 80 years old.
“His energy, his energy…he never slowed down,” said Kathy Winters, his wife who shared 45 years with the "man of her dreams."
An outpouring of mourners showed up for the funeral of a Marine combat veteran who served two tours as a member of an elite Marine Recon unit.
“(Larry) was always wanting to serve in some capacity,” said Jeff Tegzes, a fellow Marine.
At 79 years old Winters collected, packed, and hand-delivered medical supplies as close to the frontline war in Ukraine as fate would take him. In the middle of his campaign to make the trip, the Marine was typically blunt about his motivation, "there are no medical supplies, none," he told 10News in the spring of 2022.
He made the trip and the supply delivery on his own with guidance and support from friends at home and friends he met along the way.
"He helped us through the hard stuff and was always there with us," said Luke Goetz who is a member of the Young Marines, a nonprofit and youth education group commanded by Larry Winters for seven years.
In his final days, Larry Winters would ask his wife Kathy why he was so tired.
“He would say, ‘What am I sick with?' And I said, 'Well Larry, there are these little bugs inside you that are eating your bones,' which was a metastasis from his cancer. And he said, ‘Where did I get these bugs?' And I said, 'From Vietnam.' And he got real wide-eyed and goes, ‘Do you mean a sniper didn’t kill me when he shot me and my government did?’ I said, 'Yeah, that is what it boils down to,'” said his wife.
She said she was referencing lung cancer that doctors linked to the toxin Agent Orange used in Vietnam to eradicate the jungle.
At his funeral, his grandson offered the following thoughts about the legacy of Larry Winters — "when a good man dies, the world shakes. And when a great man dies, he lives on."