A Minot veteran was honored Tuesday with the replacement of the medals he received in World War II.
Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., and Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., presented 93-year-old Kenneth L. Johnston with the medals Tuesday during a ceremony at The View, where Johnston and his wife, Maxine, reside.
"We have a country free and independent because of you," said Hoeven during the ceremony.
World War II veteran Kenneth L. Johnston, right, receives his military medals Tuesday from Sen. John Hoeven, left, and Sen. Kent Conrad, center, during a ceremony at The View in Minot. The medals were returned to Johnston after they were lost in the 1950s.
Conrad said that on the day before July 4 and our nation's birthday he couldn't think of a better event than to recognize a veteran who helped give freedom to everyone.
"Thank you for what you did for all of us that we're able to live in a country this free," he said.
Johnston, who was born in rural Sanish and graduated from Van Hook High School in 1938, enlisted in the Army in February 1942, serving with the anti-aircraft infantry division until November 1945.
He served overseas with battles and campaigns at Normandy, northern France, Rhineland, Ardennes and central Europe. He was one of only three who returned home from the original crew of 15. During his military service he met Gen. George Patton and also Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower.
After he returned from the war, Johnston left his military uniform and medals in his parents' home in rural Sanish when he went to work in California. But after his parents' death in the 1950s, he didn't know what happened to the uniforms or medals.
"They were left in the farmhouse and I went to California to work," Johnston said, in an interview before the ceremony.
"He hasn't seen them since," said Johnston's stepdaughter Jana Stenson, of Fargo.
"Last year when they lost their home in the flood we found his discharge papers," Stenson said.
She said she asked why he didn't have his medals, learning they had been lost. She said they then found out about the medal replacement program. She contacted Conrad's office and her request to have the medals replaced was granted.
The medals Johnston received Tuesday included two campaign medals, good conduct medal, victory medal and rifleman's pin.
During the ceremony, other veterans at The View were recognized and the Minot Air Force Base Honor Guard also gave a flag-folding presentation, with Hoeven, assisted by Johnston, reading the information. A flag that had flown over the Capitol also was presented to Johnston.
""It is a huge honor for him to receive his medals back and to honor the other veterans," Stenson said at the close of the ceremony.