Charles Crawford, a WWII Army veteran, was recognized for his service on Friday morning while surrounded by family and friends.
The 92-year-old resident of Old Post Village was part of the New Guinea Georgia campaign and landed on Guadalcanal in June of 1943.
"It's been so long, it kind of hits home," Crawford said after receiving the WWII victory medal, the National Defense medal, and Expert Sharp Shooter medal from U.S. Representative Joe Courtney.
Crawford's son, Douglas, worked with his eldest brother to make sure his father's service was recognized. Douglas said that after Charles was wounded and sent back to the United States, his father's focus shifted to family.
"When he got home from the war, the medals were the last thing on his mind," Douglas said. "He never really talked too much about his experiences."
Charles' children discovered the honors while looking through their father's discharge papers and reached out to Courtney.
"It's an honor to be here with your father and this amazing family," Courtney said to the assembled crowd at Old Post Village. "It's an incredible American story of somebody who stepped up when the country called, in probably one of the most difficult times of combat you can possibly imagine."
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Crawford's dedication to service has inspired one of his granddaughters to enlist in the Navy. Many of Crawford's 13 children, 23 grandchildren and 27 great-grandchildren were there to see Crawford receive his medals.
But his sacrifice is also noted throughout the community.
U.S. Army Captain Xeon Simpson, a Hartford native, was one of the attendees. While he counts all veterans as heroes, he said that WWII veterans are especially meaningful to him.
"There was no way I wasn't going to be there," Simpson said once he learned about the planned ceremony.
Check out the attached photos to see Crawford receive the medals he earned at 23 years old.