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Soldier's 63-year wait is over

Medals received decades after service

Staff writer

On Christmas Day, Marvin Rediker of Hillsboro received a long-overdue package: his medals from serving in the Army at the end of World War II and occupation of Japan.

His daughter, Sharon Hand of Wichita, delivered the medals to him in a Christmas gift bag. Her husband and son pinned the medals on Rediker’s shirt.

“I didn’t expect the medals anymore after 63 years,” Rediker said. “It was because of my daughter that I was able to get these.”

It was well worth the effort, Hand said.

“It was so exciting to see the look on his face,” she said. “The first thing he said to me was, ‘You couldn’t have given me a better Christmas present. This is what I wanted more than anything else.’”

Rediker was drafted in the waning months of the war. He underwent basic training at Fort Lewis, Wash., but contracted the mumps during training. He was delayed two weeks, and his unit left without him. Japan surrendered while he was in training.

After finishing basic training, Rediker got two weeks of leave to visit his parents in Lincoln, but all of his luggage was lost. At the end of his leave, he reported to Camp Stoneman, Calif., and shipped off to occupied Japan in 1945, where he was a supply clerk until receiving his discharge April 16, 1947.

As he disembarked from the ship returning to the U.S., he was told he would receive three medals — a World War II Victory Medal, Army of Occupation Medal, and Honorable Service Lapel Button, World War II — in addition to a sharpshooter medal he received in basic training.

For more than six decades, he waited receive the medals he was due.

Hand didn’t find out Rediker hadn’t received his medals until about two years ago. He didn’t speak much about his time in the Army with his family. He said he didn’t think it was important.

“There were a lot of men who did more than I did,” he said.

He occasionally mentioned his time in the Army, but seldom went into details. Hand said it seemed like many veterans are more comfortable talking about their service with other veterans than their families, a phenomenon she noticed while working with Rediker to obtain benefits from Veterans Affairs.

“I didn’t know for many years that my father was in Japan,” Hand said.

The hardest part of Hand’s quest to get Rediker’s medals was finding his discharge papers, DD214.

Several years ago, Rediker applied for benefits from Veterans Affairs in Emporia. The worker that handled his case improperly kept Rediker’s original DD214 rather than making a copy of it, and that worker had retired in the intervening years, Hand said.

Eventually she was able to obtain the original document, and contacted the appropriate office in St. Louis. Rediker’s records, along with many others, had been destroyed in a fire July 12, 1973. Furthermore, the office was out of the appropriate medals and had to wait until more were available. Hand received the medals a week before Christmas.

“It was a real shock to me,” he said. “I couldn’t believe it was really happening to me, because I’m sure there were men who served their duty who didn’t get their due reward.”

Last modified Jan. 6, 2011

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