Holding a framed display with a couple handfuls of military medals neatly arranged inside, 94-year-old Rome resident Hugh Aikens said he couldn’t fully express his gratitude for receiving them.
At a Friday afternoon ceremony conducted by Congressman Anthony Brindisi, D-22, Aikens was awarded the military medals for his time spent serving in the United States Army during World War II in Gen. George Patton’s Third Army, Fourth Division, as a machine gunner. Later, Aikens served in the Korean War in the 790th Field Artillery unit,
according to a statement.
The list of medals given to Aikens were: Silver Star; Bronze Star; Purple Heart; Good Conduct; American Campaign; European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with Double Bronze Service Star Attachment; World War II Victory; National Defense Service; Korean Service and Double Bronze Service Star Attachment; Combat Infantry Badge-First; United Nations Service; Honorable Service Lapel Button-World War II (“Ruptured Duck”) and the Marksman Badge with Rifle Bar.
They were presented during a ceremony at the New York State School for the Deaf in Rome.
Remembering his experiences, Aikens said he was drafted as soon as he turned 18 for service in World War II where he was stationed in the European theater. In between the wars, he said he stayed active in the Army Reserves.
“As soon as things started happening in Korea, they called me back because of my experience,” he remembers.
Before handing the medals to Aikens, Brindisi (who sits on the House Armed Services committee) said that one of the parts of serving in Congress that he is most honored by is being able to recognize veterans in such a way.
“These are truly deserved. Thank you for your service,” Brindisi said to Aikens, who in turn thanked everyone present for arranging the delivery of the medals.
Said Aikens: “It’s really wonderful. Thank you, thank you so much ... It’s really something to be able to show something like this.”
Aikens further said that he was, “proud of those serving” in the current military.
If you are a veteran - or know a veteran - who believes they have not received their service medals, contact Brindisi’s Utica office at 315-732-0713.