That’s how long a Michigan World War II veteran waited for his U.S. Army Victory Medal.
U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-MI, presented the medal to Eugene “Gene” Andrews, 87, at his Livonia home earlier this week, the Detroit Free Press reports.
The oversight was discovered by Andrews’ son, Chris, as he was going through his dad’s Army discharge papers. Congress authorized the medal on July 6, 1945, to commemorate military service during World War II by any member of the U.S. military on active duty between Dec. 7, 1941, and Dec. 31, 1946.
“It’s wonderful to have a chance to say ‘thank you’ to you and have the chance to share with your family,” Stabenow, surrounded by Andrews’ family, neighbors and members of Livonia VFW Post 3941, said during a brief ceremony.
“These are medals that are long overdue to get to you and I am glad we can make that happen,” she said.
Gene Andrews enlisted in the U.S. Army as a 19-year-old and completed his basic training in Seattle before being deployed to Okinawa, where he began working for the Army Corps of Engineers to help survey and map areas that had been devastated by the war.
”The island got blow up a lot, and they were rebuilding and everything,” Andrews told the newspaper. “So we had to re-survey the whole island.”
The Andrews family expected it might take several years before the medal would be awarded, but Stabenow acted swiftly after she learned about the oversight when Chris Andrews mentioned it to her during a chance meeting at an area restaurant about a month ago.
Stabenow said her office tries to work quickly to secure medals for World War II veterans. “We need to make sure they get the recognition they deserve because we wouldn’t have the freedoms we have in this country without them,” she said.