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Delayed recognition

Daryl Whiteley — shown here in 1945 — earned the Bronze Star Medal during his service in Guadalcanal and New Georgia in 1942-1943 during World War II. He finally received his medal on March 20, 2004. (Baker City Herald/S. John Collins).
Daryl Whiteley — shown here in 1945 — earned the Bronze Star Medal during his service in Guadalcanal and New Georgia in 1942-1943 during World War II. He finally received his medal on March 20, 2004. (Baker City Herald/S. John Collins).

By LISA BRITTON

Of the Baker City Herald

Daryl Whiteley gently lifts a gleaming metal star from its case and peers at the engraved words on the back.

"It says right here on the back: for ‘heroics or meritorious achievement' with my name right in the middle," says Whiteley, 81. "I earned this in 1942 and '43 in over 11 months of battle on Guadalcanal and New Georgia."

The certificate accompanying the medal is dated Aug. 24, 1962.

This military award — the Bronze Star Medal — arrived in Whiteley's mailbox on March 20, 2004.

His World War II medal collection is now complete.

"I got them in a frame — just room to put another one in," he says. "I was pretty proud of this one. They were all for a purpose, but not like this one was."

Whiteley received most of his awards soon after his service ended with the U.S. Army in July 1945, including an expert infantry combat badge, Asiatic-Pacific medal with two bronze stars, the American Defense Medal, American Campaign Medal, good conduct medal and the World War II Victory Medal.

"I got almost all of these when I got out," he says.

However, he misplaced the medals after moving several times during the last 60 years.

When Whiteley began the process to request replacements, he decided to check on the Bronze Star he knew he'd earned.

His eligibility came from his title as a combat veteran, said Arda Johnson, Baker County veterans service officer.

Whiteley's delayed recognition isn't uncommon, she said. "There were a lot of Bronze Stars that weren't issued during World War II that (veterans) are now eligible to receive," Johnson said.

The Bronze Star award was established by President Franklin D. Roosevelt on Feb. 4, 1944, to honor heroic or meritorious achievement or service while engaged in military operations against an enemy of the United States.

President John Kennedy amended this award on Aug. 24, 1962, to include military personnel who served with friendly forces.

Replacement medals require proof

It's fairly simple to request new medals, Johnson said, as long as veterans can show proof of their awards.

"Generally (the government) wants to see that award listed on the discharge papers. That's the easiest way to verify that the medals were awarded," Johnson said.

Whiteley's medals were quick to show up after his request.

Minus one.

"They sent me all my medals but this one," he said, pointing to the Bronze Star. "We worked on it for a year and a half. All the red tape and everything we went through — I finally got it."

Johnson said it typically takes a few months to receive the replacements.

"Which is really fast," she said. "There was a time it took five years to replace medals. It's kind of frustrating, but you have to think of the thousands and thousands of requests they get every day."

Johnson encourages any veterans who may be eligible for the Bronze Star — or who have any other questions regarding military honors — to contact her at the veterans office at 523-8223.

"I suspect that there's others out there who would be eligible," she said. "They should have them — they're certainly entitled to them, that's for sure."

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