WWII veteran receives Bronze Star Medal, more than 70 years after service

NEENAH, Wis. - This Veterans Day was extra special for one World War II veteran in Neenah who received his Bronze Star Medal more than 70 years after his service.

Leonard Erickson, 96, served in the Army in the 65th Infantry Division from 1943 to 1946.  

"I was in France first, then Germany, and then Austria," he said. 

When Erickson came home, he had a badge and several medals to his name because of his service and bravery.

It was his Combat Infantry Badge that made him eligible for a Bronze Star Medal, but the application for it was never submitted.

Two men who knew Erickson at the Valley VNA learned about this, and helped him apply for the Bronze Star. 

This Veterans Day, a room at the Valley VNA was full of Erickson's friends and family, as they watched Senator Ron Johnson pin the Bronze Star on the lapel of Erickson's uniform. 

"I didn't expect anything like this," Erickson said.

Senator Johnson reflected on how veterans helped build the country back up after the war. 

"They just came back to America, and they built what we have today, he said. "So Leonard is just one of those quiet heroes, like so many others, that served in World War II."

Now, the 96 year-old World War II veteran has received his last medal, and his family couldn't be more proud. 

 "It was just very honoring to see that many people acknowledge the service that he has done for us," Leonard's son, Dean Erickson, said. "It just highlights  the importance of the gratitude that we need to give these service men and women."


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