Lewisburg veteran gets medals late

Wednesday, May 2, 2007
Submitted photo Ed Lee finally receives his World War II medals, which were presented to him by General Brooks Hodges III.

In his haste to get home to his young wife, Ed Lee went through the faster discharge procedures, inadvertently bypassing two World War II medals.

Decades passed with the missing medals going unnoticed until the Lewisburg man's daughter, Vicky Hill, found the claim to the medals on the back of her father's discharge papers. Married to a retired Air Force Captain, Hill helped her father go through the Veteran's Administration to claim the medals.

Lee was born in Marshall County, and dedicated himself to serving his country. Lee was sent with the 34th Regiment to occupy Japan during the later years of World War II.

Lee and his fellow soldiers sailed to Japan on the U.S.S. General Patrick.

"We left from San Francisco when it was about dark and stopped at Honolulu for four or five days during Christmas," Lee said. "Next we stopped in Guam before settling at Camp Kyushu in Japan."

Lee recalled feelings of peace when arriving in the former enemy territory.

"I was nervous somewhat, but I felt pretty good about it. When we got off of the ship a Japanese man said 'ohayou' and smiled" Lee said. "The Japanese people were under our control at that time and helped us take care of the camp. They were real cooperative and very nice."

For the next five months Lee was in charge of the Non-Commission Officers Club at Kyushu, and found the trip home more nerve racking than the trip to Japan.

"A bad storm hit. Coming home was something, but with the Lord's help we made it," said Lee.

Upon his return to Marshall County, Lee and Maggie Sue raised their two children, Vicky and Eddie Ray and watched their grandchildren grow, during their 64 years of marriage, until Maggie Sue's passing two years ago.

On March 30 Lee was awarded the World War II Victory Medal and Army of Occupation Medal. During the ceremony, General Brooks Hodges III pinned the medals on Lee and slipped him a coin entitled "An Award for Excellence."

"Receiving my medals was a feeling that's hard to explain. If I had went through the normal procedure I would have gotten them," Lee said. "It did something to me. You have to go through it to really understand."

To current United States soldiers, Lee advises them to, "Do your duty. Watch out for everybody, not just yourself. That is the only way to make it through life."