WWII Vet Finally Receives Long-Overdue Medals - FOX 10 News | fox10phoenix.com

WWII Vet Finally Receives Long-Overdue Medals

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A local World War II veteran is giving new meaning to the phrase, "It's never too late."  He's waited more than 60 years for the medals he earned in combat, fighting off the Germans.  Friday afternoon, he finally received them.

John Warhola did already have two medals for his service in World War II, the good conduct medal and the Purple Heart.  He's proud of those awards but not quite satisfied, because he was supposed to receive even more medals.

"Oh yes, there were eight altogether."

Warhola says he's been waiting for them for decades.

"Oh I'd say since about 1950," Warhola insisted.

That's the same year he married his wife -- 63 years ago.

"I tell you it's a long time," Warhola told Fox 29.  "And I'll be proud to get them, if they give them to me."

We asked the veteran if it wasn't too late.

"It's not too late, not for me," Warhola answered.  "It's never too late."

Warhola was only a teenager when he saw his best friend die in combat.  And he himself took a bullet from a sniper.

"It was like a train hit me very hard, or like a bus," Warhola explained.  "I flew up in the air and came down on all fours."

So those missing medals mean something to him.

"I thought I deserved them," Warhola said.  "I fought for what I thought was the right thing to do at time."

Jennifer Bail, Warhola's granddaughter, decided to take action late last year, and discovered her grandfather wasn't the only veteran owed medals.

"The lady I spoke with at the VFW said a lot of the soldiers slipped through the cracks, their paperwork," she said.

Bail wasn't going to let that injustice stand, so she contacted Congressman Bob Brady.  A couple of weeks ago, all the missing medals arrived.

"I was so excited," Bail said. "But I was like, I can't just give them to him."

So Bail decided to surprise her grandfather. She told him they had to travel to a VFW convention to get them.

"He thinks he's just going to sign for them," Bail explained.  "He's actually being presented in front of the convention by one of the brigadier generals."

On Friday afternoon, 87-year-old John Warhola finally received his medals, before it became too late.

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