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Cranberry Island Finds A Unique Way Of Honoring A Fallen Hero 

As we pause to honor our veterans today, we see numerous memorials around Maine designed to help us never forget their sacrifice. But, the folks on Cranberry Island may have found the most unique way to honor one of their own fallen heroes.It’s not unusual to hear visitors get off the ferry on the island, located about 30 minutes outside of Northeast Harbor, and ask about the old rusty tractor on the beach. Phil Whitney, the President of the Great Cranberry Historical Society, says it’s almost a regular occurance. “Some often ask why do you keep that old piece of rusting metal junk on the beach,” he says. The tractor belonged to Cranberry Island’s favorite son, Edgar Bunker. He used the tractor to haul boats for his father’s boatyard more than 50 years ago. Bunker was drafted into the Korean War in 1950. Polly Bunker, Edgar’s sister, says he was proud to serve his country. He told his sister right before he left, “Don’t worry, if they get me, you can bet I’ll get a few of them.” “He knew he had to go and he did what he did,” says Polly Bunker, “I don’t think he knew what he was in for, apparently from what we heard, it was really ugly over there.”Before he left, the family wondered about his tractor. “We said, what are you gonna do with that tractor Edgar?” recalls Polly Bunker, “leave it right there he said, I’ll be back and I’ll take care of it.”Corporal Edgar Bunker was in the K Company, part of the 1st Cavalry Division. Bunker’s unit was involved in Operation Commando, fighting the Red Chinese who were armed with enormous firepower. Bunker’s unit was engaged in some of the most bitter fighting of the entire Korean War. The U.S. Corps suffered 4000 casualties during Operation Commando. The 1st Cavalry Division suffered 2900 of those casualties. Edgar Bunker was among them. He was killed in action October 8th, 1951.Annie Alley, a childhood friend of Edgar Bunker, says the entire island took the news of Bunker’s death hard. “We all felt like we had lost a good member of the community,” says Alley. “Oh it’s an empty feeling,” says Polly Bunker, “you don’t believe it for a long time. My father didn’t really believe it for an awful long time, he kept saying he’ll be back.” Edgar Bunker’s father, Elisha, kept hope alive that his son would come home. The day his son’s body was returned to Cranberry Island, Elisha Bunker died of a heart attack. He’s buried next to his son in the place they both called home: Cranberry Island.Bunker’s tractor has remained in the same spot for 58 years. Phil Whitney says it’s should remind us all of the men and women who serve in our armed forces. “It reminds people every day of the sacrifices our folks nationwide in the various wars make, specifically young people like Edgar Bunker, who went off and never came back.”