WWII vet honored decades after war

Decades after war, WWII vet honored
Mr. Gilbert surrounded by his family. (Source: WAVE 3 News)
Mr. Gilbert surrounded by his family. (Source: WAVE 3 News)

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - WAVE Country had the honor of celebrating Navy Week all week long this week as one of the 14 cities selected to host a Navy Week in 2018. It is designed to give residents in WAVE Country an opportunity to learn about the Navy, its people and its importance to national security and prosperity.

One of the high points for many of the Naval Officers during the week came when they got a chance to meet a 94-year-old citizen born and raised in Louisville.

"This man deserves recognition and a standing ovation," proclaimed Rear Admiral Michael Jabaley of the US Navy, speaking of award recipient William Edward Gilbert.

Mr. William Edward Gilbert, a World War II Navy Veteran, deserves a standing ovation and much more. But it took decades to get it.

One of the conference rooms of the Robley Rex VA Medical Center is filled with medical staff, Naval personnel visiting the city for Navy week, media and members of the Gilbert family.

Mr. Gilbert, a patient now at Robley Rex VA Medical Center, was recently authorized to receive several medals following his separation from the U.S. Naval Service on January 11, 1946.

"We are so honored to be able to assist with getting you these deserved medals 72 years overdue," boasted Dr. Gina Salisbury of the VAMC.

As a Stewarts Mate on the USS Indiana, Mr. Gilbert earned three medals of honor, medals his family and VA service members fought for him to receive for over seventy years.

"The greatest generation that served was during World War II. That was so important to our survival and our country," Rear Admiral Jabaley said with pride. "There're not many of them left. The ones that are we need to treasure. We need to take every opportunity to make sure that they get the recognition that they so richly deserve."

The three medals awarded to Mr. Gilbert were:

  • The American Campaign Medal is a military award of the United States Armed Forces recognizes those military members who had performed military service in the American Theater of Operations during World War II.
  • The Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal [1] is a United States Military Award of the Second World War, which was awarded to any member of the United States Armed Forces who served in the Asiatic-Pacific Theater from 1941 to 1945.
  • The World War II Victory Medal is a service medal of the United States military which was established by an Act of Congress on 6 July 1945. The Congressional authorization for the medal specified that it was to be awarded to any member of the United States military who served on active duty, or as a reservist, between December 7, 1941 and December 31, 1946.

"These are the medals he earned during his service in the US Navy during the period of WWII," Rear Admiral Jabaley announced as the crowd cheered and many joyfully cried.

Raising his hands in praise, Mr. Gilbert shouted, "I'm thankful. Reason I'm thankful is, I lived long enough to receive this!"

It took a lot of persistence, patience, and paperwork but a deserving veteran is honored and remembered.

"Thank you for all of you who appreciate our country's veterans," Rear Admiral Jabaley said as he looked around the room. "Thank you most of all Mr. Gilbert for your faithful service to the nation."

Mr. Gilbert retired from Louisville's Jewish Hospital and now lives with his son. He enjoys spending time now with his five grandchildren and multiple great-grandchildren.

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