GREEN BAY, WI (WFRV) – A Navy veteran from WWII received some long overdue service medals Monday at the retirement home where he now lives.

Joe Mertens admitted to Local 5 News that he joined up at the tender age of 17 because all his friends did.

All these years later, he’s finally receiving the medals he earned.

He remembers thinking he would see the world on a ship by signing up for the Navy.

Instead, he spent 32 months and 15 days in the jungles of New Guinea.

It meant a lot to him to receive the five medals, including the Philippine Liberation Ribbon.

“I can’t get any higher honor than this,” Merten said. “Not quite my whole family but most of my family’s here.”

Congressman Mike Gallagher made sure Mertens finally received the recognition.

The Bellvue Senior Living Center, where the Navy veteran now calls home, made sure there was a packed house to witness the presentation.