Homer Allem remembers December 7, 1941 as clear as yesterday.
"Sunday morning, you're standing in line for breakfast and this plane appears at rooftop height, and I wave to the guy going by and then next thing I know, he adjusts his machine gun on his plane so naturally I ducked right away," he said.
He was in the Army at 20 years old and based at Schofield Barracks in Hawaii. Those planes were Japanese and heading to Pearl Harbor.
"They striked our barracks and they went by to Wheeler Field," he said.
He should have received a number of awards for his military service. Something he never even realized until 70 years later.
"A 23 year old fresh out of the service isn't going to read the back of a discharge to see what he got. So I didn't worry about it," Allem said.
The news came at a painful time for the 91-year-old former staff sergeant.
"This year was a bad year. I lost my wife March 1st after 67 years and it's because of that we're here today," he said.
As Allem prepared his wife's burial at the Bushnell National Cemetery, officials asked for his military records. That is when they realized he was entitled to more.
"The gentleman behind the desk says I want to congratulate you for your valor. I says, what are you talking about? And he says well you have the bronze medal. I said I don't have any medals at all," he said.
Now he does. For his service as a mortar man with the 21st Infantry Regiment. The Bronze Star, one of many.
"My mom was the real instigator of this I truly believe. I'm sure she would be very, very proud," said his daughter Sandra Butch.
Butch said her mom is watching from above, as Allem's children pinned his medals to his chest.
"Knowing her, she would be thinking the same thing as me -- too much, because we didn't look for any of this. I'm thankful for it," he said.
Allem was also honored with the American Defense Service Medal with one Bronze Service Star, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with two Bronze Service Stars, WWII Victory medal, Combat Infantryman badge first award, Honorable Service Lapel Button WWII and the Expert Badge with rifle bar.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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