U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-Jamaica) presented the 81-year-old Richmond Hill resident with the Bronze Star after his office was able to confirm that Nash was deserving of the honor.A 1973 fire at the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis destroyed 80 percent of World War II veterans' information, including Nash's, making the process of issuing Bronze Stars to World War II veterans difficult."A lot of our veterans, especially those in World War II, have not received the medals they earned," Meeks said.A spokeswoman for Meeks said she was unsure why Nash did not receive the medal shortly after he returned from the war in 1946. She said she would look into a rumor that "the Army may have run out of medals in the 1940s."But Nash's case was made easy because he held onto his combat infantryman badge, Meeks said, noting that it took his office two weeks from the time Nash made the request to secure the medal.Nash, a switchboard operator for the Army, said he only recently learned that he was deserving of the Bronze Star after speaking to a friend who was a Korean War veteran. He said his friend told him that any World War II veteran who got a combat infantryman badge was eligible for the honor."It took me 63 years," Nash said. "I didn't know I was entitled to this."With his son, daughter, daughter-in-law and granddaughter by his side, Nash was given the Bronze Star inside Meeks' Jamaica office."We thank you for giving us the freedom that many of us take for granted," Meeks said.Nash, a Richmond Hill resident for 20 years, thanked the congressman and said he hopes soldiers fighting in Iraq are treated fairly when they return home."I hope all the new GIs that are serving in Iraq get all the benefits they deserve," he said.Nash said he was so eager to go into the Army that he regretted not being able to enlist when he was younger than 18.He spent 17 months in Europe and saw combat in Dusseldorf, Germany.Nash said he was not wounded during his combat stint."I knew how to duck," he said.His children said they were proud of their father's military service."It's an honor to know your father served and did the right thing," said James Nash Jr., Nash's son.Aside from his new Bronze Star, Nash had been awarded the Army of Occupation Medal, the Europe-Africa-Middle East Medal, the Conduct Medal and the World War II Victory Medal.Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at hkoplowitz
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