After 55 years, WWII veteran gets his medals
November 14, 2000
The 55 year wait is over World War II veteran, Cpl. William Feldmann officially receiveed the medals he earned while in the Amry Air Corps.
Feldmann, 75, actually received six medals of commendation, one accompanied by three bronze stars and one oak leaf cluster last month, but informally and only after he paid $50.
In, commemoration of Veterans Day last week, Feldmann was honored by Tooele Army Depot Lt. Col Gary B. Carney in a ceremony, at the old Wal-Mart location. There he was officially presented the American Defense Service Medal, American Campaign Medal, Asian-Pacific Combat Medal, National-Defense Service Medal, WWII VictoryMedal, Presidential Unit Citation and a Good Conduct Service Medal. Now he has something to pass on to his kids to help them remember dad's contributions to the war effort.
It wasn't until about five years ago when Feldmann was asked by his grandson what he did in the war that he decided to pursue the medals. A fire at a records facility in St. Louis in which thousands of service files were burned, including Feldmann's, complicated his plight. At one point he even received a form letter emblazoned with a red "DISAPPROVED" stamp for a medal he hadn't requested, one that errantly placed him in the Korean War.
Finally, retired Gen. Henry C. Huglin and local VFW chaplain, Mike Parks, brought Feldmann's saga to a close.
Huglin wrote a letter to Feldmann last June, informing him he could order all the WWII medals and ribbons he's due through an Air Force clothing store in Arizona during a reunion of the 9th Bomber Group.
"I will be glad to help you get what you deserve and which will be treasured by your children and grandchildren," wrote Huglin.
The medals were presented to Feldmann in October in a small package. Parks then became responsilbe for making sure Feldmann was officially decorated last week.
And so the 18-year old who drove an 8,000 gallon refueling truck for B-29 bombers, including the Enola Gay, steering with one hand and shooting at snipers with the other; a young man who sweated it out 32 feet below the deck of a Navy ship with 5,000 men while highly explosive "ash cans" searched the warm Pacific waters for Japanese dubs; the man who served with a group credited with bringing down the second most heavily defended zone in the Japanese empire; the man who was marrried to Mary Jean for 52 years and living quietly in Tooele, finally received his medals. When Feldmann's grandson asked what he did on Tinian Island, in Micronesia, in the Marshall Islands and off the coast of Saipan, he replied, " I won the war". Now, in addition to news articles, photos and his own notes, Feldmann has proof his grandon can hold in his own hand.
"I'm glad to get, them," said Feldmann on Monday. "It gives me satisfaction. And I wanted to leave something for the kids and grandkids." Sadly, he noted, there are thousands more still waiting for their medals.
Ironically, Feldmann had just received the November edition of the magazine, VFW, on Monday. Inside is an article that tells war veterans exactly how to go about getting the medals they deserve and why they have been denied for so long. One photo shows a chasm of boxed files of men and women who served and another picture shows a man holding a charred remains of one particular file.
Feldmann looked down, at the opened magazine on the kitchen table and laughed as if to say say, "Where was this article 55 years ago?"
(Bill Feldmann is the Uncle of Rick Feldmann, a member of our B-29 Superfortress Then and Now mailing list. You can reach Bill through Rick.)