Veterans

August 29, 2018
 

94 year-old vet receives World War II Medals after 72 years

PO2 Jonathan Jiang
Louisville, Ky.

A 94-year old World War II veteran received his long overdue medals during a ceremony at the Louisville Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Center in Louisville, Ky., Aug. 23, 2018.

Rear Adm. Michael Jabaley, former Program Executive Officer for Submarines, awarded William Edward Gilbert, a Kentucky native, the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal, World War II Victory Medal and American Campaign Medal during Louisville Navy Week.

In his opening speech, Jabaley spoke about the importance of honoring our surviving World War II veterans.

“There are not many of them left and the ones that are, we need to treasure, and we need to take every opportunity to make sure they get the recognition that they so richly deserve,” said Jabaley.

Gilbert was drafted into the U.S. Navy from January 6, 1943, until his honorable discharge in January 11, 1946. He served as a Steward’s Mate aboard the South Dakota-class battleship USS Indiana (BB 58) in the Pacific Theater, earning the medals he would receive 72 years later.

“He put in a lot of work,” said Bruce Coleman, Gilbert’s son. “I feel really good that they finally recognized him as a veteran.”

VA psychologist, Gina Salisbury, learned about the issue on her initial visit with Gilbert and helped him take action. Salisbury consulted with VA geriatrics and extended care social worker, Tina Strobel, who worked with the National Archives to retrieve the medals.

“It’s probably the coolest day at the VA that I’ve ever had, and I’ve worked here for over 10 years,” said Salisbury. “It just really makes my job meaningful, being able to give back to veterans that have served our country.”

Friends and family were at the ceremony to share in this moment, including his son, Bruce and daughter-in-law, Wanda.

“I’m overjoyed,” said Wanda. “I wish all my children could’ve been here to witness this. I wish that everybody that I know could witness this. I’m just overjoyed.”

After the awards, Gilbert addressed the audience, expressing his feelings at finally receiving the medals and the value of perseverance.

“Never give up,” said Gilbert.




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 
Air Force photograph by R. Nial Bradshaw

Red Flag strengthens F-35A maintainers

Air Force photograph by R. Nial Bradshaw Airman 1st Class Monique Fajardo, 4th Aircraft Maintenance Unit, launches an F-35A Lightning II at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev. Pilots and maintainers from the 388th Fighter Wing’s ...
 
 
bae-navy

BAE Systems’ Norfolk shipyard to modernize USS Bulkeley

BAE Systems has received a $114.5 million contract from the U.S. Navy to perform maintenance and modernization of the guided-missile destroyer USS Bulkeley (DDG 84) in its Norfolk, Va., shipyard. The value of the competitively ...
 
 

35th FS Pantons launch into Cobra Gold 19, historic redeployment to Thai base

Air Force photograph U.S. Air Force 35th Fighter Squadron pilots enjoys first moment with Royal Thai Air Force personnel after arrival for Exercise Cobra Gold 2019 at Korat Royal Thai Air Force Base, Thailand, Feb. 6, 2019. Cobra Gold is the largest Theater Security Cooperation exercise in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region and is an integral part...