CIB Authorized To USAAF Personnel?



Re: Long Overdue War Medals Awarded


From: POW-MIA InterNetwork


Date: January 06, 2003


"Pawtucket veterans receive long-overdue war medals


Joel Furfari


PAWTUCKET -- More than five decades after narrowly escaping death while fighting against the Japanese in World War II, two longtime Pawtucket men were finally recognized by the U.S. government and given new medals for their service.


James Brennan and Robert Kerle, both of Pawtucket, received a total of 11 new medals after Rep. Patrick Kennedy and his staff worked with the federal government to get the awards that the veterans had never received.


"I’m very thankful to be alive, and this is the greatest country in the world," Brennan said Monday evening after Kennedy presented the medals to he and Kerle at his Pawtucket district office.


Mike McCarthy, an aide to Kennedy, said cases like this aren’t unusual for World War II veterans.


He said a 1973 fire at the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis is behind many of the delays in obtaining medals they have experienced.


"This was a massive fire that destroyed a lot of the records of World War I and World War II vets. So now they are just getting around to awarding the actual medals," he said.


Kerle said he told the Democratic congressman about the oversight and that he didn’t hear anything back until recently, when he was notified that he would receive the Good Conduct, American Defense Service, American Campaign, Asiatic Pacific Campaign, World War II Victory and Philippine Liberation medals and the Honorable Service Lapel Button.


Brennan received the Prisoner of War and World War II medals, the Combat Infantryman Badge and the Honorable Service Lapel Button.


"They want to make sure that history isn’t forgotten and that people -- particularly their families -- remember the sacrifices they made for their country," Kennedy said during the event, which was attended by members of the men’s families.


Both men survived their tours of duty despite incredible odds and harrowing war stories.

Brennan was a member of the U.S. Army Air Corps at the start of the war against Japan in 1941 when Gen. Douglas MacArthur turned him and other airmen into infantry soldiers to fight on the Bataan Peninsula in the Philippines.


"I never fought in hand-to-hand combat, but the Japanese were as close as the other side of the street," he said.

During that time, Brennan was captured and forced to walk almost 90 miles in what is now known as the infamous Bataan Death March.


Later he was put on an unmarked freighter and sent to Thailand even while American submarines were routinely sinking such ships. Brennan was forced to work for two years in Japanese steel mills before being liberated by the Allied forces.


Kerle was also one of the first soldiers to engage the Japanese during the war. He began fighting in 1941 in New Guinea. While in that country, Kerle and his unit were attacked by Japanese snipers hiding in coconut trees, and he survived an intense bombing raid by taking refuge in a foxhole.


"It still shakes you up a bit," he said Monday.


"I endured a lot of narrow escapes. They say cats have nine lives, well I think I used all nine of mine."


©The Pawtucket Times 2003 "


Seems the answer to the title of the thread...yes.




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