Veteran of many World War II campaigns finally
By Vincent Z. Whaley
City Press Staff Writer
(PUBLISHED Tuesday, Dec. 7, 1999)
I am writing to request the military medals
my great-uncle earned gallantly during World
War II but never received. James W. Lewis served
his country honorably from Oct. 9, 1941, to
Oct. 15, 1945.
When he turned 22, Lewis celebrated his birthday
as a private stationed with the Army at Fort
Bragg, N.C. His birthday gift came wrapped as
his greated chagrin that year.
It was Dec. 7, 1941.
In a sneak attack, Japanese aircraft heavily
bombed a U.S. Navy base in Hawaii known as Pearl
Harbor, thus ushering in America's involvement
in the Second World War.
As a member of Cannon Company, 47th Infantry
Regiment, Ninth Infantry Division, Lewis had
trained thoroughly for the combat, albeit nightmare,
that soon followed. From French Morocco and
Tunisia in Africa, Sicily, Normandy and Northern
France to the Ardennes and Rhineland in Germany
and war's end in Central Europe, Lewis fought
in all eight campaigns in which the Ninth "Octofoil"
Infantry Division participated during the war.
Lewis stepped ashore Utah Beach in Normandy
on D-Day plus five, battled his way through
Cherbourg and St. Lo and across the remainder
of France. He crossed the Ludendorff Bridge
in Remagen, Germany, in March 1945 with the
47th Raiders one of the first
complete U.S. infantry regiments to cross the
Lewis also fought with my late grandfather,
Pfc. Starlin H. Hughes, who served in F Company
of the 47th Infantry Regiment, Ninth Infantry
Division. The two many times were within sight
of one another on the battlefield. In 1988,
you fulfilled my family's request and sent my
A famous slogan was initiated after Lewis' birthday
in 1941 "Remember Pearl Harbor."
Now my family is asking our government to remember
the many men and women who served this country
to uphold peace, freedom and democracy.
Please accept this letter as my request to receive
all medals my great-uncle is entitled to have
as authorized by and recorded on his Honorable
Discharge, Enlisted Record and Report of Separation
Lewis' medals should include the European-African-Middle
Eastern Theater of Operations Medal with one
Silver Star and three Bronze Stars for the eight
campaigns in which he served; Good Conduct Medal;
American Defense Service Medal; American Campaign
Medal and World War II Victory Medal, both as
entitled by dates of service; and the Bronze
Star Medal, as entitled by the Combat Infantryman's
Badge and authorized by the President of the
United States of America, Executive Order, 24
I would like to request your prompt attention
and fulfillment of this request so my family
and I can present my great-uncle's medals to
him while he is still living. It is thanks to
him and many others that you are reading this
Should you require further information, I will
provide same upon request.
Vincent Z. Whaley
Letters similar to this article were successfully
sent to the National Archives and Records Administration
in St. Louis, Mo., by my parents, Mollie H.
and Lewis D. Whaley, to obtain my grandfather's
and great-uncle's military medals the government
failed to send them after the war.
On July 18, 1999, my parents presented Lewis
with his long-awaited awards at his Greenmountain,
With an estimated backlog of 98,000 routine
requests for Army medals, the length of time
to receive a response or the medals and awards
varies depending upon branch of service. Generally,
there is no charge for this service.
Veterans interested in obtaining their World
War II military medals may obtain additional
information on a computer through NARA's Web
site at http://www.nara.gov/regional/mprfaq.html.
Once you log into the "Frequently Asked
Questions" portion of the Web site, click
on the third question, "How can I get my
medals or those of my family?" After linking
to "Military Personnel Records Military
Medals and Awards," all branches of service
and addresses are listed, as well as links to
special request forms.
Requests must contain basic information to locate
military service records. This information includes
the veteran's complete name used while in service,
service number, Social Security number, branch
of service and dates of service. Date and place
of birth also may be helpful if the service
number is not known. Each request must be signed
NARA states family members may only request
medals and awards of living veterans by obtaining
their signed authorizations. For deceased veterans,
requests will be accepted from next-of-kin,
such as unremarried widow or widower, son or
daughter, father or mother, brother or sister
of the deceased veteran.
For those who do not have a computer, the Johnson
City Public Library has 16 computers available
with Internet access. Citizens may use the computers
for one hour daily.
Army veterans or family members who have required
documents may mail their requests to the National
Personnel Records Center, Medals Section (NRPMA-M),
9700 Page Ave., St. Louis, Mo. 63132-5100. Addresses
of other military branches are available at