More than 70 years after enlisting, World War II veteran George Talbott told his nephew Ray Talbott, also a veteran, he hadn't received the medals he’d earned. Like many vets, George hadn't talked much about his military experience. But looking over his DD-214, he realized he was short.
"So that's when I got with my niece (Lisa Fix) and she did some research on it," Ray said. "We found out everything he had earned. His 90th birthday was coming up so we decided we would get the medals for him and present them to him on his 90th birthday to make his day."
Rather than waiting the months for the government to present the medals and miss the big celebration, the Talbott family bought them through different military suppliers. Through research, the family discovered George was even eligible for some medals not listed on his DD-214.
Family, Legion Posts 374 and 442, plus other veterans organizations helped honor George's service. The local newspaper and TV stations, as well as family and friends, showed up at the birthday party.
There, he received the Combat Infantryman Badge, the Distinguished Unit Badge (now known as the Presidential Unit Citation), the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart, among others. George was wounded during the D-Day invasion — shrapnel — and later was wounded in the shoulder while fighting in Belgium, Ray said.
"He knew we were having a birthday party for him, but he didn't know about the medals he was really surprised. He was speechless," Ray said. "He was really excited and really appreciated it."
As for what it meant to see his uncle receive the recognition he had so long coming, Ray had few words.
"Oh, it choked you up."