Honoring a local hero: WWII vet receives medals after 70-year wait
By Jake Magee, Janesville Gazette
JANESVILLE--Weepy daughters dabbed at wet eyes Monday as Rep. Paul Ryan awarded local World War II veteran Ted Shaw, 93, a Bronze Star Medal that he earned 70 years ago.
Shaw received the award in downtown Janesville's Old Towne Mall.
World War II veterans who earned the Combat Infantryman Badge for actively engaging the enemy in ground combat are eligible to receive the Bronze Star. Confusion about the medal's criteria in the '40s caused many soldiers to be shorted the Bronze Star, Shaw included.
Ryan began the ceremony by sharing Shaw's history with gathered family, U.S. Army officials and guests.
Shaw enlisted in the Army in 1940, before the United States entered the war, and he served until 1945. Near the end of his service, Shaw's company landed in France and went toward Belgium and Luxemburg through Germany as part of General George Patton's Third Army, traveling farther into East Germany than any other American unit, Ryan said.
Shaw returned to Rock County after his service, went to school to learn how to fix watches, worked in a jewelry store in Beloit and then moved to Janesville to repair watches and clocks for a living, he said.
“Ted is an important part of our history,” Ryan said. “It's a real opportunity for us to see a person right in our midst who has done so much for our country.”
Ryan read aloud a congressional certificate recognizing Shaw's accomplishments and naming him an “outstanding citizen” of the country as the veteran's family wept more tears and clapped with pride.
Two Army sergeants snapped to attention between American and Wisconsin flags as Shaw rose to accept his Bronze Star from Ryan.
Shaw also received the Army Good Conduct Medal for exemplary behavior and efficiency and the Army Occupation Medal, awarded for occupying German territory for 30 or more consecutive days after the war.
“Sir, thank you very much from a grateful nation for the service you have given our community and our nation,” Ryan said as he shook Shaw's hand after pinning the medals to his lapel. “It is high time you finally receive these medals that you earned so long ago.”
“Seventy-five years ago,” Shaw pointed out, smiling.
He didn't say much else, but his family spoke on his behalf.
“We're very, very proud of Dad,” Shaw's daughter Regina Wicks said.
Other family members expressed what an amazing man and father Shaw was and is.
Shaw reminisced quietly with Ryan about his days in the Army before his family approached for hugs, kisses and photos. Even Shaw's great-grandson attended to get a picture with the hero.
Ryan noted the rarity of these award commemorations, saying he hadn't done one in about five years.
“It's just an absolute honor for us to do this,” he said.
Shaw felt touched by the dozen or so people who came to the ceremony to recognize his service.