GLEN LYON, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — Joseph Scanlon died in 1981, never mentioning the details of his service during World War II or the Korean War to his family. His medals were lost in a house fire in 1964.
Sunday the Glen Lyon VFW and his children surprised his widow with replacement medals.
“I almost fainted. Really. It was really a big surprise,” Scanlon’s widow, Sylvia, said.
Sylvia Scanlon thought she was going to a small get-together on Sunday afternoon. She never expected it to be for her. Her children, friends, and volunteers part of the Glen Lyon VFW gathered to give Scanlon her husband’s medals he earned during service.
“He had some but I’ve never saw them and he never really wore them,” Sylvia said.
The original medals were lost in a house fire in 1964.
“He didn’t talk about any of the battles, he didn’t talk about any of his service. My mom actually didn’t know he saw any action overseas,” daughter April Gromen said.
Gromen was shocked to learn about the medals her father earned. She met John Wildes, who explained their significance to her, and suggested a ceremony to honor Joseph.
“Some of the battles that he fought, some of the things that he did were just remarkable. He’s a true warrior. The family and that warrior, and all the warriors that built this great nation should be honored,” Wildes said.
Scanlon was given a Purple Heart in World War II, after he lost his hearing throwing a grenade into a bunker. He also fought in the battle of Chosin Reservoir, a two-week-long battle that took place in freezing temperatures during the Korean War, earning Scanlon a prestigious combat infantry badge.
Gromen says they started planning the ceremony to replace the medals for her mother two years ago but it got postponed. But her family was determined to hold it for their 88-year-old mother.
“The fact that we were able to show her through the gentlemen here at the legion, what he actually did, it meant the world to us so she could know what her husband did,” Gromen said.
Wildes encourages more veterans to join the VFW as a way to support each other and the fallen.