TAMPA, Fla. - A World War II Navy veteran never knew he earned medals for his actions at Iwo Jima in 1945. That is, until doctors found shrapnel in his leg a decade ago.
After a lengthy confirmation process, Raymond Loring Chambers, 93, was awarded his overdue honors Friday, the Tampa Bay Times reported.
Chambers, who has lived in the Tampa suburb of Gibsonton for 60 years, received the Asiatic Pacific Campaign Medal with two Bronze Stars, the American Campaign Medal, the Combat Action Ribbon and the World War II victory medal, the newspaper reported.
U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Tampa, presented the medals to Chambers during a ceremony Friday, WFTS reported.
Chambers was 18 when he joined the military. He was first deployed to fight with the Navy special forces alongside the 5th Marine Division and survived the Battle of Iwo Jima, one of the bloodiest conflicts in the Pacific theater during World War II, the Times reported.
Chambers believed he was not injured at Iwo Jima, but after going to a hospital to check out a pain in his leg, doctors discovered shrapnel, WFTS reported.
“During this brutal battle that went on for weeks Mr. Chambers was actually shot in the leg,” Castor said Friday. “But he's a tough guy and at that time, when the doctors looked at him, he said he was fine and he kept on fighting. He kept on serving.”
Chambers’ eyes teared up as Castor read the citations that accompanied the medals. One Bronze Star was for his "heroic" achievement and service, while the other one was for his "meritorious" achievement and service in a combat zone, the Times reported.
“I was lucky,” Chambers said. “I've lived a wonderful life.”
Chambers’ wife of 60 years, Mary Chambers, said her husband thought he had merely hurt himself and had not suffered a war wound, the newspaper reported.
“I guess once he was done with the war he was done,” Mary Chambers told the Times.
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