Texas Gov. Rick Perry's father finally has gotten the medals he should have received after serving in World War II 68 years ago — including one he wasn't expecting, The Dallas Morning News reports
Joseph Ray Perry joined the Air Force in 1943, and flew more than 30 missions in the European war zone as a tail gunner on a B17 bomber nicknamed Heavy Date before the war ended in 1945. He is the only surviving member of the aircraft's crew.
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Perry, 88, was certain he'd earned several medals for his service, including the Air Medal, the World War II Victory badge, and the Aerial Gunnery badge. But he didn't know how to get them.
His daughter Milla eventually approached Rep. Kenny Marchant, R-Texas, for help. His office helps vets obtain their military awards through its Medal Retrieval Project, which works closely with the National Personnel Records Center.
Marchant also works with the Library of Congress to record video interviews with war veterans for its Veterans History Project.
Milla Perry said she and her brother wanted their father to be included in the project so his story could be seen for generations to come.
"Rick and I grew up knowing these men of the greatest generation and their families," she said. "Now our children will have this documentary to learn about their grandad's service to America."
After her father recorded an hourlong interview in June, Marchant looked into the case, and Perry was finally handed his decorations last week.
Perry also received one he didn't know he'd earned, the Sharpshooters badge, a marksmanship award.
"I am always humbled to witness a veteran receive his medals for the first time or to listen to their stories of valor and sacrifice," Marchant said. "They are truly heroes, and recognizing their service is the least I can do."
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