It took nearly 70 years for one local veteran to be awarded military service medals, but on Thursday he finally received them.
Harley Edwards, of Independence, and Charles Bradbury, of Blue Springs, were each presented a number of medals for their military service by U.S. Rep. Sam Graves during a ceremony at the American Legion Post 499 in Blue Springs Thursday.
“Nine out of 10 times it is the veteran’s relatives who request medals,” said Graves to those in attendance of the medal ceremony. “They did their service and their time... Almost all cases it tends to mean more to their families than the veteran.”
Edwards was a 2nd class boatswain mate for the U.S. Navy, as well as a gunner’s mate and machinist, during World War II. He served from 1941 to 1946.
His son, Joe Edwards, recalls a story about spotting Japanese kamikaze planes at the Coral Sea in the Pacific Theater.
“He would hit his (the gunner’s) shoulders every time he spotted a plane. He had eyes like a hawk. The gunner said he was an ace for spotting five planes at one time.”
Joe added that Harley was stationed on the USS New York and USS Mobile. He later transferred to an auxiliary cargo attack ship. Harley revisited the USS New York at New Orleans in 2008 after it was rechristened. The ship was forged with salvaged steel from the World Trade Center terrorist attacks at New York City on Sept. 11, 2001.
“Charles Bradbury is a true defender of freedom,” said Graves to the ceremony’s audience. Bradbury served in the U.S. Army’s 164th Combat Aviation Group during the Vietnam War in the early 1970s. The Specialist 5 rank said he did not expect the medal ceremony.
“I didn’t really care after I got out,” Bradbury said on receiving service medals, “but as you get older, it means something.”
He said that he waited nearly 20 years to receive his medals, and recently approached Graves during a town hall meeting at the Blue Springs Police Department. Eventually a ceremony was scheduled.
“Presenting medals to veterans is one of my favorite things to do as a Congressman,” said Graves.
Bradbury mentioned there are “thousands” of other veterans who deserve service medals as well. One audience member urged other veterans to get in touch with a service officer at either a VA hospital or VFW hall as soon as possible.
“For a long time, I had to dig deep for records,” said Bradbury. “You have to hound them (U.S. military).”
But once he received the medals, he said it “means everything” to him.
Here are the medals each veteran was awarded on Thursday:
-Navy Good Conduct Medal -World War II Victory Medal -American Defense Service Medal with 1 Bronze Star -American Campaign Medal -European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with 1 Bronze Star -Navy Occupation Service Medal with Asia clasp -Combat Action Ribbon -Discharge button -Honorable Service lapel pin
-Army Commendation Medal (only awarded to soldiers showing heroism, meritorious achievement, or acts of valor) -Good Conduct Medal -National Defense Service Medal -Vietnam Service Medal -Republic of Vietnam Campaign Ribbon -Expert Badge with Grenade Bar and Rifle Bar