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World War II vet awarded Purple Heart after 70 years

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PORTAGE, Mich. — Seventy years after serving in World War II, veteran John Butler, 89, received the Purple Heart. He sat with family as Congressman Fred Upton presented the award to him in front of 60 friends and neighbors.

“I can’t believe it really,” said Butler. “Keep thinking it’s kind of a dream. But I sure appreciate everybody that showed up.”

Butler said he didn’t want a ceremony but Upton insisted on celebrating his accomplishments. Upton stated that Butler enlisted in the Navy when he was 16 years old. He was aboard the USS Kidd when a Japanese kamikaze pilot dropped a 500-pound bomb on the middle of the ship. A battle ensued in which Butler suffered shrapnel injuries and he lost his right eye.

Butler added that years after getting honorably discharged as a Seamen First Class in 1945, he and his family learned that he was eligible to receive the Purple Heart.

“I called the congressman office and they started right away,” said Butler. of Upton and his staff. “They stated they received the medals and that it was just a matter of picking a date, which we did and everything’s just been super.”

Butler said he was grateful for all of Upton’s and his staff’s hard work. He was honored with six other medals too including World War II Victory Medal, the American Campaign medal and the Combat Action Ribbon. He said he’ll place them in place where everyone can see.

“I got a table [it] will look good on just as you come in the apartment,” said Butler. “It’ll be real nice there.”

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