World War II veteran receives medals on Christmas Day

Al Willis, a Montford Point Marine, salutes during a ceremony on Veterans Day, Tuesday, Nov. 11, 2014, at the The All Wars Memorial to Colored Soldiers and Sailors in Philadelphia. Americans marked Veterans Day on Tuesday with parades, speeches and military discounts, while in Europe the holiday known as Armistice Day held special meaning in the centennial year of the start of World War I. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) – Bud Koshewa has a lifetime of stories to tell about his World War II service. This Christmas, his daughters gave him a new one.

Koshewa, 93, received from his family the war medals and military pins he earned as an Army transmitter attendant stationed on Alaska’s Aleutian Islands, where he made sure communication lines remained open.

When the war ended, Koshewa was ready to leave his military accomplishments behind and return to Louisville.

“He had a girlfriend back home who he was very much in love with, who happened to be our mom,” said Kim Koshewa Hendricks, the youngest of Bud’s three daughters. “He didn’t care about the medals, he didn’t care about the ribbons, he just wanted to be out.”

Koshewa’s wife passed away around Christmas in 1998, and his three daughters have since focused on making the holiday special and focused on family.

He began sharing war stories more frequently with family members in recent years, said Karen Koshewa, Bud’s oldest daughter.

She found his active duty discharge papers packed away and, with the help of a family friend in the military, discovered that her father had earned more than the meritorious service award he’d know about.

“At 93 years old, there’s not a lot that he really needs or wants,” Karen Koshewa said. “This is something that honors his memories.”

Bud Koshewa teared up when his daughters presented him with his discharge papers they’d had framed. Then, he became emotion when he saw his medals mounted and framed.

“Thank you. Thank you,” Koshewa repeated. “The greatest experience I’ve ever had was my military service.”

Koshewa said he turned 21 years old a few months after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941. He wanted to enlist in the Army Air Corps but said his vision wasn’t good enough.

Koshewa’s mother, an immigrant who had left an unstable Europe behind, didn’t want to see her son go to war, Koshewa said.

“I said, ‘Mom, I’ve got to get in it. I’m 21 and I’ve got to do something,'” he said.

Koshewa said his transmission lines crackled in August 1945 with news that the U.S. had dropped an atomic bomb on Japan. He knew the war would soon be over, he said. He didn’t get his discharge until early the following year.

“He’ll tell you, he’s not a hero — far from it,” Karen Koshewa said. “But he’s proud that he served.”

After receiving his gifts, Bud Koshewa’s eyes again filled with tears as he remembered his wife.

“God gave me one of his best,” he said. “He took her back after 52 years, and that was his right. I’ll not argue with that, but I wish she were here.”

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