72 years in the making

Source: Newton Daily News

Newton World War II vet honored

More than 70 years later a local veteran received recognition for serving in World War II. Newton native Kenneth Arthur, 92, was full of joy when he found out his wait was over — he was awarded six medals.

Family and close friends surrounded Corporal Arthur Sunday night at the Jasper County Veterans Affairs office as U.S. Senator Joni Ernst honored him.

“This is 72 years in the making,” Ernst said. “Unfortunately, he never received the medals he had earned, so his son reached out to our office, and I am so honored to present these medals to him.”

Jasper County Veterans Affairs Director Kurt Jackson said he met Arthur more than a year ago when he came to his office and asked for assistance. Jackson worked on the process for Arthur so he could receive the medals he deserved.

According to Jackson, when Arthur returned home from the war, he didn’t think about his discharge papers. When things weren’t recorded properly, there wasn’t a way to show his injuries.

“I’m a veteran and my belief is in vets helping vets,” Jackson said. “I hoped he would get everything he deserved.”

Arthur recalls being aboard the USS Iowa and USS Missouri, losing his left eye and enduring 30 below temperatures in China. He was also aboard the USS Missouri when the proclamation was signed to officially end the war.

“It’s been a long time coming, but it’s better late than never,” Arthur’s son Alan said. “He had a lot of joy when he found out he would receive his medals ... I don’t think a lot of people realize what these veterans went through.”

Ernst said the medals are from the United States of America thanking him for his service.

Arthur was presented with the Combat Action Ribbon for service during World War II, Navy Unit Commendation awarded to 3d 155mm Howitzer Battalion from September 15 to 29, 1944, China Service Medal, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with two bronze campaign stars, World War II Victory Medal, Navy Occupation Service Medal with Asia Clasp and the Rifle Marksman Badge for being a straight shooter.

“I’m just so sorry it has taken this long for him to get those in his hands,” Ernst said.

Ernst said it’s hard not to be emotional during medal ceremonies like this one.

“You think of Kenny and he told the story about how 210 of them were deployed for these missions — only 11 of his original unit came back,” Ernst said. “He told us he is the only member of that unit that is left living today.”

Ernst said this is one of the best parts of being a U.S. Senator.

“His entire family was so excited to find out that they would be receiving those medals,” Ernst said. “Most of the time family members don’t even know that their father, their brother is such a hero until they see all of these medals presented to them.”

According to Arthur, he never would’ve received his medals if it weren’t for Jackson and his help.

“It feels wonderful,” Arthur said. “I couldn’t believe it. I’ve been waiting 72 years for this.”