WWII veteran receives honors after more than 70 years of waiting

WWII veteran finally awarded metals

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) -- For more than 70 years, Roscoe Kerr held onto a secret. The Army veteran had served during World War II, but unlike his fellow brothers-in-arms, he was missing something.

"He deserved everything, and I made it my mission the last eight months to make sure he gets what he's supposed to get," John Kahl, Kerr's son-in-law, said.

Kerr had served in a medical depot company stationed in Belgium during the war, helping the Allied Forces liberate the concentration camps and providing both physical and emotional aid to the soldiers. A non-combat injury ended his time in Europe and sent him back to the States to recuperate, during which time, the war came to an end and his platoon was disbanded.

"When they were disbanded, they were given all their military honors," Kahl said. "And since he was in the States, he did not get them."

Kerr kept this to himself until finally telling his son-in-law his story.

"Being a former teacher, I'm used to seeing nonverbals, and I could tell from his eyes he was in pain," Kahl said. "He wanted them."

That's when Kahl decided to help get his father-in-law the honors he deserved. After waiting more than 70 years, Kerr would have to wait eight more months as Kahl went from agency to agency trying to get Kerr his medals. At one point, Kahl said he was told Kerr's records no longer existed, having been burned, which led to him contacting, even more, agencies for help.

All the work led up to this Thursday when Kerr was surprised with his medals at Westport Health Care.

"You could see his chest swell up," U.S. Army Col. Don Wolfe, who presented Kerr with his medals, said. "There's no doubt about it. The pride of being a part of that definitely made his day."

"He was flabbergasted. He was emotional," Kahl said. "He was typical Mr. Kerr, being undeserving.

For Kerr, a man of few words, it was a moment a long time in the making.

"I'm certainly pleased to be recognized in this small way. I mean a big way for a small duty," Kerr said.

"He volunteered to serve. He wasn't drafted. And it just takes the courage to do that at that time," Wolfe said. "It just proves once again that they truly are the greatest generation."

© 2017 WHAS-TV


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