A 99-year-old World War II veteran received long-overdue medals from his service to the country.
Seventy years later, Fred Carlage, of Woodstock, was honored for his service and sacrifice at the Killingly Community Center in Danielson on Tuesday.
Drafted in 1942 at the age of 26, Carlage told Eyewitness News his years of service were some of the best of his life.
Carlage served in the U.S. Army Air Corps from 1941 to 1945 and flew 47 combat missions as first lieutenant/navigator on B-24 liberators in the Pacific Theater.
“Each mission was about a 16 hour mission,” Carlage said. “And you know when you sit down on a hard oak chair for that long time, you know you get a little sore.”
During his service, officials said he earned the World War II Victory Medal and the World War II Lapel button, but never actually received them.
"Mr. Carlage courageously served his country with distinction-long ago earning medals and honors that he never fully received," said Sen. Richard Blumenthal. "Although we can never fully repay him for his heroism and sacrifice, these medals are one small way to say thank you."
According to Blumenthal's office, the victory medal was for any service member who was enlisted between 1944-46 and the lapel button was a way to identify those who had been honorably discharged.
Carlage also earned the Air Medal and the Asiatic Pacific Service Medal with two Oak Leaf Clusters. He previously received those decorations, officials said.
Carlage's ceremony took place at a veterans' coffeehouse, which is sponsored by the Thames Valley Council on Community Action's Retired and Senior Volunteer Program. The coffeehouse is a place where veterans can connect with each other and discuss their needs.
"It's just a tremendous day for the entire family,” Bruce Carlage, who is Fred Carlage's eldest son, said. “This will impact his remaining days. It's something he will never forget."
Blumenthal presented the medals to Carlage at 9:30 a.m. in front of his three children and fellow veterans
“He wasn't really looking for medals,” Blumenthal said. “In fact, my guess is that none of the decorated combat veterans we have in this room today really look for those medals."
Carlage said it was his duty and privilege to serve a commitment he still lives by.
"What I did for the country, I would do over again if I had to,” he said.
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