70 YEARS LATER: WWII veteran gets service medals - KMSP-TV

70 YEARS LATER: WWII veteran gets service medals

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It literally took a lifetime, but one World War II veteran is finally getting the recognition he deserves after his family and a U.S. Senator discovered that he should have received a stash of honors.

Lewis Meaney joined the Navy out of Iowa in 1943. After the war, he spoke very little about his time in combat -- but his Minnesota family kept digging for clues. It took a lot of investigating, but what they found is certainly something that would make any military family proud.

Meaney passed away in 1997 and never got to collect his honors for his naval service aboard the U.S.S. Mercy in the Philippines during WWII -- a WWII Victory Medal, the American Campaign Medal, Navy Occupation Service Medal and a Combat Action Ribbon. In fact, his son told Fox 9 News the family had no clue about his father's accomplishments.

"I remember one time he said it was hell with the kamikaze pilots, 'cause he said we had no armament," Ronald Meaney recalled.

That's about all the WWII vet ever shared, but his grandson said the family got curious about his role in the fight about 3 years ago. Although they only had a few leads, a letter of thanks from the secretary of the Navy and the Navy Records Bureau in St. Louis put them on track to learn more.

A fire nearly wiped out any chance the family had of finding the details they sought, but a breakthrough came after the Meaneys reached out to the Military Personnel Records Department in Washington, D.C. They discovered 3 medals Meaney never received. So, armed with more confidence, they asked Sen. Al Franken's office to help them keep digging. As a result, they found two more medals awarded by the Philippine government.

Franken's staff found 3 medals, bringing the total to 6 service medals that could finally be presented on Saturday afternoon. Furthermore, Franken believes there could be other veterans who still deserve service medals. His office is willing to work with any family who needs help finding out.

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