Du Quoin veteran receives WWII medals 73 years later - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Du Quoin veteran receives WWII medals 73 years later

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BENTON, Ill. --Members of Benton's Veterans of Foreign War and American Legion commemorated Veterans Day on Sunday. A part of their holiday was spent on a special ceremony for WWII veteran Carl Campanella. 

The 96 year old was presented with his military medals 73 years after the war's end. They included a European-African- Middle Eastern Theatre campaign medal with three bronze battle stars, as well as, American Campaign, Good Conduct and WWII Victory medals. 

"I love you all, I really do," Campanella said with a tear rolling down his cheek. "Thank you very much and god bless you." 

Campanella enlisted in the Army at 20 years old, mainly loading shells into a Howitzer, which fired ammunition over hills. "They would point out a target and they would tell you to fire.Then the third one, bingo, right on the money," he explained. 

He fought in the Battle of the Bulge, the last German offensive on the Western Front. Also considered considered the greatest battle in American military history with more than 100,000 German casualties. 

Campanella ran recall a time he escaped death while trying to get water for troops,"We passed up six or seven tanks and they kept waving at us, or so we thought." 

It was actually a warning that enemies were up ahead. Campanella had to think fast as bullets began spraying the mechanic truck he was driving. "If you don't think that you can't turn a truck around laying flat on the floor boards with a gear shift, it can be done," he said.

Patti Wilson, Campanella's daughter, said growing up her dad never discussed his service time, "It was almost taboo to talk about it. I do remember, however, nightmares."  

Wilson remembers the night terrors taking place throughout her childhood until college. It wasn't until she reunited Campanella with a war-time friend 10 to 15 years ago that he began opening up.

"He thinks it's the best thing that ever happened to him, going to the war and having the experiences that he did," Wilson explained. 

Campanella was honorably discharged with the medals on his military records, but never received them. Now, all that come to visit Campanella will know he served the country. 

"I'm going to hang them on the wall where everybody can see them when the come in the front door," he said proudly. 

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