Lt. Colonel Robert Mitchell died before ever getting the chance to be honored for his military service, but on Monday his family received his medals.
The military medals and ribbons help tell the story of a soldier’s bravery and sacrifice.
It was a small tribute, but one that will leave a lasting mark for the family of Lt. Colonel Robert Mitchell.
“I've always been impressed with my dad,” said John Mitchell.
His father entered the United States Army in 1941, and when his commanding officer was killed in combat in France during World War II, Robert Mitchell took command of his company.
He served in France, Belgium, Holland, and Germany, and after WWII, he served in the Korean War as well.
"They were such great patriots, that greatest generation,” said Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT).
In 1962, Robert Mitchell was still on active duty when he was killed in a car crash in Boston, along with his wife.
His two sons survived the crash, later wondering whatever happened to those medals their dad earned, including the “Silver Star,” the third highest medal for valor in the Army, along with the Bronze Star, the Purple Heart, and other commendation and conduct medals.
The family reached out to Senator Blumenthal for help.
"The remarkable thing about that generation is that they really didn't care about the medals,” Blumenthal said. “When they came home, some of them put them in shoeboxes, some left them in Europe."
Some medals were even missing or were never even given to them in the first place.
The family said they later learned a woman in England actually bought a foot locker their father left behind after the war.
"She actually purchased a foot locker that has my dad's helmet, rings, watches, fishing pole. You can see how once you leave your assignment, your possessions can go anywhere,” John Mitchell said.
There were no medals or ribbons, until Monday.
"From the bottom of our hearts, our family, this is wonderful. We never really expected that this would happen and appreciate it so much,” John Mitchell added.
The family has actually been in contact with a few surviving members of Mitchell’s unit and will be meeting one in person for the first time, next week in New Jersey.
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