Two World War II Veterans Awarded Their Service Medals Over 70 Years Later

CNN Newsource
By CNN Newsource
June 2, 2019US News
Two World War II Veterans Awarded Their Service Medals Over 70 Years Later
Medals are seen on the chest of WWII veteran Herman Zeitchik during a ceremony marking the 74th anniversary of the D-Day landings in Normandy at the World War II Memorial in Washington, on June 6, 2018. (Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images)

Two men who served in World War II were awarded their much overdue service medals. The veterans have two different stories, but each is finally holding their well-earned awards 70 years after their service.

Albert Malcos

Albert Malcos, 98, entered the military in 1942 and was a staff sergeant in the U.S. Army Air Corps. He flew two combat missions in a B-17 Flying Fortress bomber before his plane was shot down over German territory. He bailed out and was captured and held as a prisoner of war for 15 months. During his time in the prison camp, some of the medals were given out and he told CNN affiliate KNXV that they may have just overlooked him.

Some of Malcos’ family members reached out to the office of Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema for help. On May 29, Sinema, whose grandfather was a World War II veteran, gave Malcos the six medals he was awarded, including the Bronze Star. The Bronze Star is the US military’s fourth-highest military decoration for valor and is given for heroic or meritorious achievement in a combat zone.

“They did what their country asked them to do, without thinking of their own sacrifice and without thinking of themselves as being heroes,” Sinema told KNXV.

Raymond Loring Chambers

Raymond Loring Chambers, 93, of Tampa, Florida, served in the US Navy from 1943 to 1946. Attached to the 5th Marine Division, he participated in the invasion of Iwo Jima, one of the Pacific Theater’s bloodiest battles. Chambers was wounded in the leg but was declared uninjured. It wasn’t until 60 years later that doctors found shrapnel in his leg.

For more than half a century, Raymond Loring Chambers believed he was one of the fortunate few who survived World War II unscathed.

Chambers became a father, went to work selling soft serve ice cream in a traveling carnival, and learned about “love at first sight” the day he met the animal keepers’ daughter. They married four weeks after the day they met. They have now spent 60 years together, raising children and grandchildren in their Gibsonton home.

On May 24, Florida Rep. Kathy Castor awarded Chambers four service medals: An Asiatic Pacific Campaign Medal with two bronze stars representing two campaigns Chambers served in, the American Campaign Medal, the Combat Action Ribbon and the World War II Victory Medal.

Castor recounted Chambers’ memories of the infamous battle, stories his children and grandchildren have come to know by heart that now ends with a twist.

“Less than 500,000 of the 16 million Americans who served in World War II are with us today, and it is our duty to thank them for their service and sacrifice,” Rep. Castor said.

The ceremony took place at the Jan Platt Library in Tampa where Chambers’ family gathered to watch him receive his medals. They took turns telling stories about Chambers and what the service awards meant to them.

Chambers ended the event by playing “God Bless America” on his harmonica.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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