MARYVILLE (WATE) – It was a proud and touching moment at the Blount County Veterans Affairs Office. A World War II veteran received a Purple Heart after more than 70 years.
Raymond Garner, 91, said he doesn’t remember his injuries from the battlefield, but the Blount County Veterans Affairs office believe the veteran is very deserving of the honor.
“It’s a great surprise to me and I’m honored with all these people coming out here,” said Garner. “I never thought of this, and that it would ever happen.”
About a year ago, he requested to have his medals replaced after they were lost in a move from Texas. In June 2014, the Blount County Veterans Affairs office sent a request to the National Personnel Records Center in Maryland for his replacement medals. After a search of his military records by the NPRC, documentation noting Garner was wounded during WWII was found.
“He should have been presented this medal 70 years or more and thankfully he’s still here with us at age 91 and his family is here and it’s just an honor,” said Blount County Veterans Affairs Director Nathan Weinbaum. He says what happened to Garner is rare.
Garner entered the Army in 1943 and served in WWII in the the campaigns of northern France, Rhineland, Ardennes and Central Europe. He was also a Vietnam veteran who retired from the Army as a E-7 in 1971.
Officers believe Garner’s wounds were minor and most likely from shrapnel where the Army medic put in his military file, but friends and family said they were happy to thank him for more than twenty years of service.