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PROVO, Utah (AP) -- Sixty years after the end of World War II, a Pleasant Grove Merchant Marine has been honored for his service.
Edward Roberts, 83, was surprised by the medals awarded him Saturday by U.S. Senator Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, during the Pleasant Grove Strawberry Days Rodeo.
During the war, Roberts survived U-boat attacks in the Atlantic, and served in both the Pacific and Mediterranean theaters. At age 22 he was an officer and one of the youngest Chief Stewards in the Merchant Marines at the time.
Although the Merchant Marines suffered the highest casualty rate of any branch of the military, the group were not considered veterans until about 20 years ago, Roberts' son, Ramon Roberts said.
At veterans events, Edward Roberts would never stand when veterans were acknowledged, his son said.
Ramon Roberts researched his father's military record and learned about the medals Edward Roberts had earned, but never received. So, Ramon Roberts contacted the military and then Hatch, who agreed to present the medals.
"It was a big deal to our family and we wanted to give it the attention we thought it deserved," Ramon Roberts said.
Edward Roberts was presented with the Atlantic War Zone Bar, Mediterranean-Middle East War Zone Bar, Pacific War Zone Bar, the Victory Medal, an Honorable Service Button and the Merchant Marine Service Emblem.
"They were speechless," said Ramon Roberts, who told his parents about the planned medal ceremony two hours beforehand. "Dad told us some stories about his service we hadn't heard before. He doesn't like to be in the spotlight, but I think he was honored."
(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)