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Family honors WWII vet

| Thursday, July 28, 2005

Walter Ivanoff was at loss for words Sunday when his family and gathered at a Bridgeville restaurant. He knew it wasn't his birthday, or a holiday.

Instead, his family wanted to celebrate his service in the Army during World War II.

"I thought we were getting a free dinner," said Ivanoff, 80, of Cecil. "I was very surprised. I didn't expect none of this."

Col. Jeff Loudermilk, representing the Army, presented Ivanoff a shadow box containing his medals and other memorabilia he brought back from the war.

His family had collected the items, which include an American Flag, eight medals, two shoulder cords, a Bronze Star and a picture of a younger Ivanoff.

"The shadow box shows him that we understand now," said Deborah Purcell, on of Ivanoff's five children. "Everyone in the family was hesitant about doing any of this because we thought it would bring back bad memories of the war for Dad."

Purcell, of Bridgeville, said she discovered the items while going through a trunk belonging to her father and saw books, postcards, letters and some medals.

"It overwhelmed me, and it was amazing realizing what he did for us and the rest of the country," she said. "I'm so proud of him."

Ivanoff enlisted in the Army and was on active duty from April of 1943 through December of 1945. He saw action in the Battle of the Bulge as a paratrooper in the 101st Airborne Division. He also served in the army reserves from 1945 to 1948.

"I didn't expect to be honored by my family after all these years. I'm very proud of them," Ivanoff said.

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