HAZLETON -- Just in time for the holidays, Congressman Lou Barletta handed long-overdue medals to five military veterans from our area.
One vet says the ceremony brought back memories of a dangerous time in American history.
Jim Rosengrant's medals and recognition come 53 years after his service at the center of a tense conflict that had the world on the brink of nuclear war.
"We didn't know how close it was to what was going on, really, until it was all over, and then we found out, 'Hey, that was pretty close,'" Rosengrant recalled.
The man from Tunkhannock was a maintenance worker on the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise. The ship was part of the Cuban missile blockade, preventing the Soviet Union from shipping nuclear weapons to the island.
"Proud to have served our country," said Rosengrant.
Rosengrant was one of five men awarded service medals by Congressman Lou Barletta.
Relatives of three men who died in World War II were honored.
Rosengrant says he's lucky he's here to share the recognition of a bit of history with his two sons, a grandson, and his wife Diane.
"He, I don't think, was totally aware when he was on the ship of everything that was going on, but finding out later, after there was a movie and a book written about it, that it was very close to some big trouble," said Diane Rosengrant.
Jim Rosengrant now looks at Cuba differently. Even though he helped in the missile blockade of the island nation, he supports opening relations with a country once considered an adversary.
"It's close to us, and I think we should have relationships with all countries," Rosengrant said.
In fact, the Rosengrants have been thinking about taking a trip to Cuba.
"I was there once, almost," he quipped.