JUNCTION CITY, Kan. (WIBW) -- When Leroy Kramer and his wife Linda checked their mail at their Junction City home a few days ago, mixed in with routine letters was a pleasant but unexpected surprise.
"Last week, my wife, she goes up and gets our mail and she says, 'You’ve got all of these medals in the mail today!' And I said 'What are you talking about?' And I got to looking at them and from the Navy, they sent me these four medals which I’ve been entitled to but have never received and it’s been 42 years since I got out of the Navy so it was quite a surprise to me to get those," he told 13 News.
Kramer is originally from Marysville, Kansas and joined the Navy in 1966 at the age of 19. He served four years of active duty and two in the reserves.
"I was stationed on the USS Coral Sea, an aircraft carrier. We were stationed off the Gulf of Tonkin over in Vietnam from 1966-1970. I had three different tours and we did air strikes against Vietnam. We had pilots that were shot down and killed and missing. We had fires aboard ships where people were killed, burned to death so it was quite a trying time," Kramer said.
He recently contacted the Navy for some documents and thinks his request for paperwork shed some light on his service record and the fact that he was owed several awards.
"What brought it on was last October, I needed a form from the military called a DD214 in order to get some of my military benefits which I received in December of last year," he explained. Kramer says he always thought he was eligible for certain awards but after more than four decades, he never thought he would receive them.
"I was very proud to see the medals and to find out that he’d been recognized for all of the hard work that he’d done," his wife, Linda, said.
"It brought back a lot of memories for me. Back then, as a veteran, you were kind of looked down on. In fact, I remember you didn’t even wear your uniform off the base. People just looked down on you so this here is more of an appreciation to have something like this. It is a sense of accomplishment and a sense of closure to my time in the military even though it’s been 42 years. It was an honor for me to get those," Kramer added.
Kramer received a Vietnam Service Medal with three bronze stars, National Defense Service Medal, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal and Korean Defense Service Medal along with Navy Unit Commendation ribbon, Meritorious Unit Commendation ribbon, Republic of Vietnam Meritorious Unit Citation and Vietnam Campaign Medal with 1960 device.