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NEW BREMEN — A local World War II veteran was decorated with additional medals Friday afternoon, 67 years after his discharge in October 1945.
Staff Sgt. Ralph Boerger served as a medic in the U.S. Army in the 45th Infantry Division during World War II, earning a slew of honors, including the Bronze Star Medal with one bronze oak leaf cluster, the Good Conduct Medal, the American Campaign Medal, the European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with one bronze service star and with one silver service star with arrowhead, the World War II Victory Medal, the Combat Medical Badge 1st Award and the Honorable Service Lapel Button of World War II, which were presented to him by U.S Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Urbana. Boerger was also presented the Silver Star, the third highest military decoration for valor that can be awarded to any person serving in the Armed Forces.
“It’s an honor to be here today to present you with these medals,” Jordan told Boerger. “You deserve them.”
Boerger said he was honored to be receiving the medals after being discharged more than 65 years ago.
“This is wonderful,” he said. “I never thought I’d receive so many medals.”
Boerger recalled joining the Army in 1942, signing up to be a medic.
“I didn’t want to be in the Infantry,” he said, noting he was presented with a choice and chose to be a medic. “That way, I could help people instead of shoot them.”
After training in Illinois, Boerger was assigned to the European Theater, traveling to Africa, Italy, Switzerland, France and Czechoslovakia during his six campaigns. Boerger was discharged in October 1945, and after returning home, Boerger met his wife of 64 years, Eileen, at a dance in Minster.
“It takes a lot of give and take,” Boerger said of his relationship.
Boerger now enjoys telling his story to various groups and classes in the area. Boerger and his wife reside in New Bremen.
They have two daughters, Connie and Linda, three grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.