WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- During World War II, a Triad veteran earned a Purple Heart but nearly 70 years later, he still hadn't received it.
During World War II, a Triad veteran earned a Purple Heart but nearly 70 years later, he still hadn't received it.
Samuel Kennedy enlisted in the Marines when he was 19-years-old. He served in the Pacific and fought in the fierce Battle of Okinawa. It was there he was injured 69 years ago.
"Bad, bad time," said Samuel Kennedy. "We were getting heavy enemy fire and I was up like this, and I was looking, and I got hit right here in the hand."
The young Marine didn't want to go to the hospital but his sergeant insisted. Just a few days later, that sergeant had different orders.
"He said, I'm glad you went on to the hospital, he said we lost 5 of your buddies today. Report to duty," remembered Kennedy.
Still injured, Kennedy went back to battle. The war raged on for a few more months before Japan finally surrendered.
"Someone ran out and said the wars over, the wars over. I couldn't believe it."
Kennedy returned home to North Carolina without the Purple Heart he earned. After nearly 7 decades, he didn't think he would ever receive the medal.
"I always wanted it," said Kennedy.
For this patient veteran, the wait is over. On Saturday, Kennedy will get the thanks and honor he's due.
"I don't really feel like I deserve all that attention but I am looking forward to it," said Kennedy. "It means everything, everything. I'm proud of it, I really am am."
Kennedy says he never would have received his medal without the help of his daughter. A few years ago, she found the papers saying he qualified for the honor and enlisted the help of Senator Burr to help him finally get it.
This special ceremony will be held Saturday night at the annual Northwest Piedmont Purple Heart banquet. About 800 people are expected to attend, including 115 fellow Purple Heart recipients.