A hero’s birthday: WWII veteran receives medals on 97th birthday
Published 12:19 pm Tuesday, April 18, 2017
Turning 97 is a feat in itself, never mind for a veteran of World War II and a former prisoner of war.
Elwood Ramey’s latest birthday brought a special present in the form of additional medals and honors, including a Bronze Star, for his service in Europe.
Ramey, who lives at Rose Mary C. Brooks Place in Winchester, was a U.S. Army machine gunner during his time in the war. He volunteered before the attack on Pearl Harbor Dec, 7, 1941, and was initially stationed in Iceland, according to his family. As the war progressed, his unit was moved to Europe and trained others for the invasion at Normandy. Ramey was part of the invasion force that day, landing on Utah Beach in France.
After a previous story about Ramey in The Winchester Sun, retired Army Col. Jerry Cecil said he went to visit Ramey. In looking over a display of Ramey’s honors from the war, he saw a few which missing.
Saying he just did what he always does, Cecil sent a copy of Ramey’s service records to Fort Knox for review for other possible commendations. They concurred, awarding Ramey a Bronze Star, a World War II Victory Medal, an Occupation of Germany medal and a theater combat medal.
Some of the citations, like the World War II Victory Medal, were cast after the war ended, Cecil said. Though all who served in the war were eligible, many veterans didn’t seek them out.
The Bronze Star was retroactively awarded to anyone who fought during World War II and earned a Combat Infantryman Badge or a Combat Medical Badge. Ramey earned the former.
Cecil and Winchester Mayor Ed Burtner, a former Marine, presented Ramey with the new decorations on his birthday, April 12.
“We just wanted to make sure he got all the medals the country promised him,” Cecil said.
Ramey was captured by German soldiers in September 1944 as he manned a one-man outpost to report on troop movements and call in air strikes. Following his capture, he was forced to work in a factory until the POW camp was liberated in July 1945.
Upon his discharge, Ramey returned home to work as a machinist and, later, in demolition for highway construction.