After fighting for their country, veterans from the Naugatuck valley were honored by their state many years later.
The legislature created the Connecticut Veterans Wartime Service Medal in 2005, but before that, the last time the state honored its veterans with a medal like that, goes all the way back to World War I.
For Vietnam veteran Lawrence Dawes, it was a day he said he never thought he’d see.
"It’s a great honor to have CT recognize the Vietnam soldier for once,” Dawes said.
Inside the Ansonia Armory on Tuesday, State Senator Joe Crisco and Veterans Affair Commissioner Sean Connolly awarded more than 30 Connecticut Veteran Wartime Service Medals.
"What it means to me is they haven't forgotten, the Vietnam veteran today and they didn't forget my husband,” said Jeanne DelVecchio, who accepted the medal for her husband.
Holding her husband’s Marine cap with his new medal pinned onto it, DelVecchio said she met her husband Salvatore the day he came home from Vietnam.
She said he died in 2008 from complications to Agent Orange.
The medals honor any Connecticut veteran who served during a time of war, from World War I to Iraq and Afghanistan.
"For us it's very special because we are a family that lost a parent during World War II. My wife's father was a pilot of a B-26, went down in the pacific, all his crew bailed out, but he stayed with the plane, he never got out,” Crisco said.
Anyone can apply, they just need to either be currently living in Connecticut or lived in the state at the time they were active duty. They must submit proof of their wartime service, and proof that they were honorably discharged or discharged due to injuries.
While it was a special day, for some it was bittersweet.
"It’s a proud moment, I just wish he was here to accept it,” DelVecchio said.
To apply for the medal, click here.
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