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Military Vets Receive Long Overdue Medals in Hazleton

Three veterans earned their awards decades earlier but didn't receive them until a NEPA congressman intervened.

Hazleton, Luzerne County -- Congressman Lou Barletta (R) 11th district presided over a ceremony on Friday at his Hazleton district office to award medals of honor to some true Pennsylvania patriots. The honorees are three veterans who served in the military decades ago but somehow never received the awards they most definitely deserved. "Probably various reasons over the years. Records keeping and availability and probably some other reasons I don't even know about," said 67-year-old David Sturdevant. The Tunkhannock man served as an airman from 1965 to 1969 during the Vietnam War era. He received overdue medals for National Defense Service and Air Force Good Conduct. "It means a great amount to me and I very much appreciate the congressman's support."

83-year-old Joseph Heintz of Hazleton waited even longer for his recognition. The career Army veteran served from 1947 to 1990. He received 16 overdue awards including a silver and a bronze star and a purple heart. He's glad to have what's his in a world where some have falsified their military achievements. "Too many phonies out there. Too many wannabes and they don't realize what it is to actually earn something," said Mr. Heintz.

George A. Zeeb accepted eight awards on behalf of his late father. He just wished George W. Zeeb had received the awards before the 87-year-old veteran died last year. "That's the only regret I have but it means an awful lot because he served in the Army during World War II,," said Mr. Zeeb. "I did get the medals so he's here in spirit anyway."

Congressman Barletta says he's gratified that his office could play a role in making the overdue medals a reality. "We should honor our veterans and what greater honor than to stand here and watch their families and give them medals of honor for what they were willing to fight and willing to give their lives up for."

Congressman Barletta urges veterans to contact his district office if they believe they've been denied awards they deserve.

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