BRANDENBURG, Ky. (WHAS11) – Forty years after his days as an infantry soldier, a World War II veteran from Kentuckiana is being honored.
Eighty-year-old Ray Cottrell, Sr. received the Order of St. Maurice medal Friday. He was nominated for and received the award from a fellow infantry soldier. They’ve become family, although they never served together.
Cottrell thought the crowd gathering outside his Ford dealership in Brandenbug had shown up for some food.
“When I saw you guys with the cameras, I said, I don’t know why y’all would be concerned with us serving food. So, I got a little suspicious, but I didn’t know anything about no award,” Cottrell said.
What he didn’t know, but would soon find out was he was receiving a military honor more than 40 years after retiring from the military. It was given to him by Joshua Ruth, an infantry soldier in his twenties. Despite the years separating them, Ray and Josh had become more than just fellow infantry soldiers.
“He’s a great guy,” Cottrell said. “I just liked him from day one. Matter of fact, I’d consider him a part of the family.”
Ruth agreed, saying, “I joined the infantry while I was in college and he and I immediately sparked up a kindred spirit, if you will.”
Ruth received the same medal several months ago.
“I thought to myself pretty much that same day, I was thinking about other guys that I could nominate and the first person that came to my mind was Ray, Sr.,” Ruth explained.
Cottrell accepted the award with humility, “I didn’t know what I did to deserve it, so I felt a little uneasy, but I appreciate it.”
Ruth said there’s a lesson for all of us in Cottrell’s service, to live with dedication and integrity.
“It’s all about doing the right thing, even when no one’s watching.”
There are five levels of the Order of St. Maurice. Cottrell received the highest level. Other recipients include Colin Powell.