WWII veteran honored with long-lost medals - wave3.com-Louisville News, Weather & Sports

WWII veteran honored with long-lost medals

Roscoe Kerr Junior volunteered for the Army when he was just 19. (Source: Family photo) Roscoe Kerr Junior volunteered for the Army when he was just 19. (Source: Family photo)
75 years after his service in WWII, he was finally honored with his medals. (Source: WAVE 3 News) 75 years after his service in WWII, he was finally honored with his medals. (Source: WAVE 3 News)
(Source: WAVE 3 News) (Source: WAVE 3 News)

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - It's been the wait of a lifetime. 75 years to be exact.

That's when Roscoe Kerr Junior, 94, was just 19-years-old and volunteered to serve in the Army during World War II.

After being hurt in a crash and hospitalized for months, he was sent home, never receiving any of the medals or honors he earned.

Kerr never felt like he was part of the Greatest Generation because he was never recognized. Seven decades later, he found out how much his service actually meant.

On Thursday residents at the Westport Place Care Center in St. Matthews told us Kerr is the official photographer around Westport Place.

It's where the charming World War II veteran spends his days taking snapshots of the girls, like Beverely Leifer.

"He takes pictures of everybody," she said. "And his daughters develop them and then he gives them out."

This day, Mr. Kerr was taking a photo of his daughter Tina, marking a special moment in time.

Surprised with a big honor, the vet had no idea what his son-in-law, John Kahl, a retired Trinity teacher, had been working on after the two had a private conversation.

"He talked about how he never got his medals," Kahl remembered. "And being a former teacher, I read non-verbals very well and I could see in his eyes the hurt and I said, I gotta start this."

Kahl started researching.

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Roscoe Kerr served the 28th Medical Depot Company in Europe treating his unit's physical and emotional wounds after liberating concentration camps.

Sometime into his service he was injured in a crash and hospitalized for eight months, then he was discharged.

His son-in-law wrote letters to the Department of Defense and Army - the response? Bad news.

"They told me about the fire," Kahl said. "All of his records were burned up in a fire."

That fire July 12, 1973 at the National Records Center in St. Louis extinguished all hope of getting the medals, until the family found his last military pay stub confirming his service.

Kale called his former student, retired Special Forces Colonel Don Wolfe, to make the presentation.

It included The Good Conduct Medal, The American Campaign Medal, The European African Middle Eastern Campaign Medal and Bronze Star attachment, the WWII Victory Medal and the Honorable Service Lapel Button WWII.

"Mr. Kerr said I made his day," Colonel Wolfe told us. "He made my day."

Friends were invited to celebrate something Mr. Kerr thought had passed him by.

"The records and all that, I thought never would catch up with me," Kerr said. "But I have a pretty persistent son-in-law," he smiled.

Kahl responded laughing, "He likes me now!"

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