Ligonier World War II veteran receives Bronze Star Medal after 70-year wait
Harry Wayne Rhodes of Ligonier has waited for nearly 70 years to feel the weight of the Bronze Star Medal pinned to his chest.
Rhodes was wounded in 1944 while serving in Italy in World War II. When he was honorably discharged in 1945, he received the Purple Heart, but never the Bronze Star Medal he deserved.
On Sunday morning, during a service in Calvary United Methodist Church in Ligonier, Rhodes finally received the award during a ceremony that included the Pledge of Allegiance and “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
The Bronze Star Medal is an individual military award of the Armed Forces that may be awarded for acts of heroism, acts of merit or meritorious service in a combat zone.
Rhodes realized he never received the award upon hearing the stories of several other veterans who received the medal years after their service.
His grandson, Seth Blazer, started the research into how Rhodes could get the medal, followed with help from Rhodes' cousin, Tom Kenney.
“It was long overdue,” Rhodes said after the ceremony, as fellow parishioners stopped by to congratulate him.
His wife, Zeda Rhodes, agreed.
“It's amazing,” she said. “I'm so proud for him.”
While serving in Company F of the Army starting in September 1943, Rhodes arrived in Naples in March 1944. After surviving a weeklong mortar attack, he was wounded by sniper fire.
While his company was under fire, Rhodes was hit by sniper fire on his left hand, which was right in front of his heart.
“He missed me two times, then the third time he hit me,” Rhodes said. “I figured it was time to get out.”
The Bronze Star Medal is the fourth-highest award for bravery in the Armed Forces.
Rhodes' grandson Bryan Baird pinned the medal on during the ceremony.
“I'm proud of him,” Baird said.
Kenney received help from a congressman in California to get Rhodes the medal. Kenney said that while he is unsure of why Rhodes didn't receive the award when he was discharged, the records could have been difficult to find because several burned in a warehouse in the 1970s.
The citation that accompanied the medal reads, “The House of Representatives of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania pays tribute to Harry Wayne Rhodes for enduring countless hardships, making untold sacrifices and placing himself in harm's way to defend and protect the cause of freedom.”
Rhodes said he didn't know until recently that he was even entitled to the award, but he said that it never felt like anything was missing.
Kate Wilcox is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-836-6155 or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Greater Latrobe-Laurel Valley Community Chamber of Commerce to honor Arnie’s pal ‘Doc’
- Defense can see, not copy tape, Westmoreland County judge rules
- Belle Vernon girls showed signs of being abused, doctor testifies
- Videotaping suspect from Greensburg doesn’t show at hearing
- Trio holds up Penn couple at gunpoint in home
- Arnold man sentenced after sexual assault conviction
- 2 escape injury when plane slides into Westmoreland County airport
- St. Michael’s volunteers cook up festival delights
- New Stanton breaks ground on municipal building
- Reputed leader of motorcycle gang returned to Pa. to face charges
- Yukon kennel founder jailed for allegedly threatening workers