Veteran Awarded World War II Medals

RALPHO TOWNSHIP -- Surrounded by family and friends, 93-year-old World War II Veteran Michael Yonkovig was presented with one of the highest military honors by Congressman Lou Barletta. Knoebels Amusement Resort near Elysburg celebrated Michael Yonkovig and other veterans as part of Armed Forces Day.

"Having the congressman come and present me with the medal not only did he say it was an honor for him, but it was an honor for me to have my family witness this," said Michael Yonkovig.

Yonkovig, from Northumberland County, received several medals, but the Air Medal, given to soldiers "who distinguished themselves in aerial flights," meant the most to Yonkovig.

Yonkovig served as a member of the United States Army Air Corps as a radio operator. He flew 23 missions in the Pacific theater, including 13 over Japan. He witnessed the dropping of the atomic bombs that effectively ended World War II.

"When the atomic bomb was dropped, I saw dust. I saw buildings. I saw 80,000 people caught up in dust," said Yonkovig.

Congressman Barletta says he learned through email that Yonkovig never received the medals right after the war.

"I don't think there's anything better that one can do than honor these veterans, especially ones that are from our own hometowns right here," said Barletta, R-11th District.

Yonkovig's daughter Claudia says these medals represent his legacy.

"There's pride for us in knowing that our father cared about his country and cared about his family," said Claudia Yonkovig-Chesney.

Yonkovig is a member of the Ukrainian Amercian Veterans. Organizers say he joins a group of Ukrainian veterans who have earned the highest military honors.