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WWII Veterans reunited with medals 6 decades later

By: Maria Miller

JOHNSTOWN, Pa. -- A local World War II veteran was honored Monday as he received his service medals for a second time.

John Burns said he thought he'd lost his medals and never expected to see them again.

"I must have forgotten about them somewhere down the line. I'm not too sure," Burns said. "It's been too many years gone by."

They're medals Burns earned for his service nearly seven decades ago; Medals he thought were all but lost until his family reached out to Congressman Keith Rothfus.

"He had his medals from the service but when my mother and him moved into their new home, they were lost," said Becky Sease, one of Burns' two daughter. "So I contacted the congressman and they worked on getting his medals."
As Burns was reminded of his accomplishments and reunited with his medals Thursday, he recalled his service as a tank operator in Gen. George S. Patton's division, serving from D-Day the whole way through to the end of the war.
His most vivid memories include fighting in the Battle of the Bulge and being one of the first occupational forces in Berlin. 
"I don't think you could really realize how big and overwhelming it was, not until you come home and you realize it was quite an achievement and quite an adventure," Burns said. "But you're glad it's over."
Obtaining medals that were lost or stolen is a request Rothfus' office sees often and a request he said he's honored to fulfill.
"Just being here today for Mr. Burns was an incredible privilege for me," Rothfus said. "A Battle of the Bulge veteran, a Normandy veteran ... It's a real privilege to be able to talk with these gentlemen."
"He's very deserving and I thought that would be something to do for his 90th birthday," Sease said. "My mother would be proud."

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Edgar Snyder

Washington Times