NORTH WINDHAM, Conn. (WTNH)–World War II veteran George Patros was surprised with a Bronze Star on Friday, as members of his family, Congressman Joe Courtney, and friends gathered at his home in North Windham.
To his family, Patros is a dad, a grandfather, a hero.
“We got a Bronze Star for you which again is a little late,” Courtney said. “But better late than never.”
During World War II, Patros was a 19-year old Private, a gunner whose heroics earned him that Bronze Star Medal.
“This star is awarded for meritorious achievement and active ground combat against the enemy on one July 1944 while serving with company D,” Courtney said.
“Thank you all I can’t be any prouder than I am today,” Patros said upon receiving the award.
It was a celebration with a solemn message. Patros was among the first troops to arrive in Hiroshima.
“It was devastated completely,” Patros said. “If you saw that you wouldn’t want any wars in the future.”
“Look at that that’s a piece of history right there,” said Patros’ grandson Chris Murphy.
“If we asked too many questions my mom would say you’d have to stop because he’d start to get the bad dreams again,” daughter Lynne Weeks said.
Patros still doesn’t talk too much about what happened overseas but he certainly remembers – he’ll never forget.
“I think of all the men that sacrificed their lives, and I consider myself very fortunate,” Patros said.
Patros didn’t survive unscathed. In a picture he showed News 8, you can see a bandage on the side of his face where he was hit by shrapnel.
“I had a lot of shrapnel in my ankle too,” he said.
Truth be known, Private Patros also earned the Purple Heart but News 8 was told he didn’t want to sign the paperwork to receive it because he knew a letter would be sent home to his family and they would know he was injured.