A LONG TIME COMING
THORNVILLE – It took 45 years, but nonetheless Kitty Hesler was extremely appreciative to receive a POW Medal on behalf of her late brother-in-law, Technical Sergeant Gerald Danison, at Thornville’s Memorial Park near the Village Office Tuesday afternoon. “This should’ve been delivered many, many years ago,” said Congressman Steve Austria (Ohio 7th District), who presented the medal to Hesler.
Hesler and her family pursued the POW Medal for Danison since his death in 1966. Danison was a WWII veteran who served in the US Army Air Corps from 1942 to 1945. His B-24 bomber, called the Dixie Bell, was shot down April 4, 1944 over Romania where Danison was taken prisoner. The POW Medal is authorized for any person who, while serving in any capacity with the US Armed Forces, was taken prisoner and held captive after April 5, 1917. “This award comes at a good time given that this Monday we will celebrate Memorial Day,” said Austria.
Danison was previously awarded at Pu r ple Hear t, Air Medal, Presidential Unit Citation, Good Conduct, the Honorable Service Lapel Button W WII, Eu ropean-Af r ican- Middle Easter n Campaign Medal, and the WWII Victory Medal.
Austria said that despite the previous honors, Danison’s family still ran into problems acquiring the POW Medal for him. Danison’s family was told in 2010 that he was to receive the honor, but the medal seemed to be mired in paperwork until Danison’s family contacted Austria’s office. Austria said his office is working hard to solve the governmental issues that are causing delays for veterans in ever ything from medal issuances to veterans’ benefits. And, he said the problems will only worsen as troops return from Iraq and Afghanistan. “We’re starting to see more on the mental health side,” said Austria, as modern soldiers deal with the stress of extended deployments and consecutive missions.
“I believe there is no other nation on Earth whose soldiers, reservists, and veterans are more dedicated than ours,” said Austria. “Those who have served as a member of the US military have given so much for the freedom of others, not only in our country but around the globe. We will not forget the sacrifice these (people) made for our nation and shall always remember their heroic actions.”
Veteran and Pastor Doug Lynn closed the ceremony, saying, “Have the wisdom to know what’s right and have the courage to defend it and live that out.”
Photos by Scott Rawdon