7 veterans from Long Island honored with medals at American Legion in Smithtown
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SMITHTOWN - Dozens of medals were awarded to seven Long Island veterans who fought during World War II.
The men received medals like the Bronze Star and the Air Medal today during a ceremony at the American Legion in Smithtown. Three were awarded posthumously.
Among the honorees was Army veteran Herbert Stern, now 89. He was just 19 years old when he was sent overseas to fight the Japanese during World War II.
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Recalling the horrors of war today, Stern said, "I did what I had to do, because that's what was called on me to do."
One of the medals given out today was the French Legion of Honor, only a small number of which are awarded in the U.S. each year. The medal was awarded to Michael Sgaglione, who served in the Navy from 1943-46. To be eligible for the medal, U.S. veterans must have fought in at least one of the three main campaigns to liberate France in World War II.
Sgaglione says he is dedicating the award to others who have served. "All of us World War II guys got plenty of pats on the back," he said. "But I always felt the Vietnam and Korean guys, they were the forgotten guys, nobody appreciated them. That's why I want to dedicate the medal to them."