U.S. Navy veteran Chet Crocker of Wiscasset received medals for his service that were 70 years overdue during a ceremony in remembrance of the 70th anniversary of D-Day at Wiscasset High School on June 6.
The presentation was made before a standing ovation of Wiscasset High School students, military families and veterans.
Crocker’s family members were going through his military records over a year ago when they discovered he had earned several medals. His family members asked Crocker where the medals were, and Crocker said he had never received them.
Crocker’s family members brought the situation to the attention of American Legion Post Cmdr. William Cossette, who contacted U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine.
Adria Horne, a representative of Collins’ office, read a letter from the Senator thanking Crocker for his service. Maine Bureau of Veterans’ Services Director Peter Ogden presented the medals.
Crocker served on the USS Allegan, a crater-class cargo ship commissioned by the U.S. Navy during World War II. The USS Allegan was responsible for delivering troops and equipment to locations in the war zone.
“You and your crew members sailed to waters unknown in the Pacific and engaged enemy forces during the Battle of Okinawa, which history has named the bloodiest battle of the Pacific,” Collins said in her letter. “You spent three years away from your family, fighting for freedoms we all enjoy today.
“At the time of your discharge, for reasons unknown, you were never officially honored for your service and rewarded for your sacrifice. We gathered to finally officially award you with the medals you so proudly earned.”
Crocker was awarded the Combat Action Ribbon and the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with one Bronze Star for his participation in protecting the USS Allegan and fighting the Japanese during the Okinawa Gunto Operation.
He also received the Philippine Liberation Medal with one Bronze Star for service in the liberation of the Philippine Islands. The Republic of the Philippines awarded this medal to crew members of ships that served in Philippine waters for at least 30 days between Oct. 17, 1944, and Sept. 3, 1945.
He also received The National Defense Medal, The World War II Victory Medal, The American Campaign Medal, the Combat Action Ribbon, The Philippine Presidential Unit Citation, The Navy Good Conduct Medal, The Honorable Service Lapel Pin and the Navy Discharge Button.
Crocker also was presented an American flag that flew over the U.S. Capitol on May 31.
Crocker married Isabel Lewis before enlisting in the U.S. Navy in 1942. He was discharged from the Navy in October 1945. After being discharged, he returned to Wiscasset, and the couple raised four children — Sherry, John, Robert, and Dennis, all graduates of Wiscasset High School. Isabel passed away July 16, 2007.