Posted on August 12, 2014 at 11:59 PM
Scottsburg, Ind. (WHAS11)-– George Gibson sat in a room with veterans he never met. They had welcomed him to their V.F.W. near Scottsburg, Ind. for a ceremony few of them had witnessed.
“It was thrilling to watch,” one veteran said.
Gibson joined the U.S. Army when he was 17 with his parents permission. He fought in the Korean War, and was injured in 1952 by enemy mortar fire.
“I was injured by a mortar shot over behind the tank,” Gibson said. He did not know anything he’d done was award-worthy until 2002.
Gibson received a letter in the mail letting him know he received a Purple Heart. No medal was included.
The veteran did not receive an explanation for why it took so long for him to get the award, but numerous veterans have dealt with the same issue.
The National Archives estimate 16 to 18 million military personnel files were lost in a large fire in St. Louis in 1973.
Gibson’s family spent 12 years trying to get an actual medal, and arrange a ceremony.
Finally 62 years later, now in his 80s, Gibson received the Purple Heart.
“It means a lot,” he said. “It means a lot to my family.”