My Aunt Florence was right. I do have my Uncle Paul VanDenBerg's medals from his service in the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II.
She called me a few years ago from her home in Florida asking me to find my uncle's medals from some pretty distinguished service performed during bombing missions over Europe during the war. She maintained they were in some boxes she left with me before she made her annual trek down south.
I looked and looked, but couldn't find them and told her I didn't have them. She insisted that I did. She was elderly and she spoke her mind freely. I felt bad.
Well, my wife found them while going through a box that had a whole different label for things that had been from my elderly mother.
Aunt Florence is up in heaven and I'm sure the medals are a non-issue. But, none-the-less, she was right. If anybody see's her up there, let her know.
The story behind the medals is harrowing and is indicative of the ugliness of that war. My uncle's plane was shot up pretty badly and had to be stabilized with his parachute flying out a gaping hole in the aircraft. He and most of his crew made it back to Italy.
The material from that parachute was used to make a baptismal gown worn by me, my cousins and my kids.
Now I've found the medals. Does anybody recognize what they are?
I think my uncle's unit was the 456th Bomb Group led by Col. Thomas W. Steed and based out of Italy. I have an old calendar that my aunt had where Col. Steed gives the background and activities of the unit during 1945.
My Uncle Paul died several years before my aunt.