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Thursday, July 31, 2014

Many WWII veterans missing out on honors

Friday, September 14, 2001

SIKESTON - Missouri World War II veterans have until the end of the year to turn in applications for the new World War II medallion, medal and certificate, but may want to do by the end of this month.

"There will be a mass distribution of these awards on Veterans Day," said 2nd Lt. Tamara Spicer, public affairs officer for the Missouri National Guard. "It's an appropriate time to hand out the award."

Spicer said those wishing to participate in the Veterans Day mass distributions should file their application by Oct. 1.

Mass distribution ceremonies are planned for around 20 to 25 sites around the state based upon the numbers in various areas, according to Lt. Spicer. "And so the veterans don't have to drive great distances to be honored."

The Missouri National Guard is the primary agency responsible for distribution and is coordinating with veteran service agencies. "The intent is that every veteran be handed this medal rather than having it mailed, unless it's their preference to have it mailed," said Spicer. "That's something were focusing on."

The Missouri Veterans Commission was responsible for selecting the design of the medallion, medal and certificate. "A medallion is on a ribbon to be worn around the neck and a medal is something that gets pinned onto a uniform," said Lt. Spicer.

The Missouri National Guard's latest figures show only about 3,000 of the estimated 125,000 World War II veterans living in Missouri have filed applications, according to Spicer.

There are currently 750 World War II veterans living in Scott County, 260 in Mississippi County, 310 in New Madrid County and 680 in Stoddard County, according to the Missouri Veterans Commission. Between the four counties, only 51 veterans have applied for the award so far.

Gov. Bob Holden recently provided funding for the program with a $3 million appropriation in this year's budget.

"These medals are an excellent way for Missouri to show its gratitude to its citizens who sacrificed so much to win the war," Holden said. "Sadly, hundreds of these proud heroes are passing away each month. This program is a most appropriate way of showing our appreciation before these men and women are gone."

To be eligible for the medallion, medal and certificate, a veteran must be living and have served in a U.S. military force between Dec. 7, 1941, and Sept. 30, 1945. Applicants also must have been honorably separated or discharged from military service unless they are still in active service in an honorable status, according to the legislation.

Information needed for the application form are address, serial number, branch of service, rank, unit, dates of World War II service and date landed in Normandy if applicable.

Veterans will also need to submit a copy of Record of Discharge or Separation from Service or Department of Defense Form 2144 as military service documentation.

"We're helping every Missouri veteran to the best of our ability to help get the award," said Spicer.

Sgt. Doyle L. Wicker at the Sikeston Armory said no one has come by the Armory yet regarding the awards, but they are ready to assist. "If someone needs some help with it they can come in and we'll help," he said.

Every eligible Missouri World War II veteran of the June 6, 1944, "D-Day" invasion of Europe who files an application will also receive a replica of the 50th anniversary "Jubilee of Liberty" medals issued by France in 1994. The same application submits the veteran for the World War II recognition and the D-Day awards.

Distribution ceremonies for the Jubilee of Liberty medal will be determined at a later date with either Memorial Day or June 6, the anniversary of D-Day, being likely choices.

"Right now our focus is on the Nov. 11 ceremonies," said Spicer.

Applications for the awards are available at Missouri Veterans Commissions offices, Veterans of Foreign Wars buildings, on the Missouri National Guard Web site at www.moguard.com, by calling 573-638-9983, or by writing Office of the Adjutant General, Attn: Director, WWII Veterans Recognition Program, P.O. Box 1808, Jefferson City, Mo. 65102.