WWII vet gets Purple Heart 66 years after service - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

WWII vet gets Purple Heart 66 years after service

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WAUSAU (WAOW) -- Jack Olson should have earned a Purple Heart in World War II, but he refused the honor. More than 60 years later, this Rothschild veteran is being recognized for his service.

Jack has always been a hero in his family's eyes.

"He's the most super husband anyone could ever have," said his wife, Val Olson. "Gentle and always the greatest sense of humor."

His son, Todd Olson said every time they say goodbye, Jack always gives them a hug and a

"Some of his friends never came back home with him in the flights so I think it was just a way to acknowledge that you visited and that you had a good time and you may not see this person again," said Todd.

Jack served in the Air Force during World War II, earning numerous honors but never bringing them home.

"Initially he didn't want to receive the award for the Purple Heart because he was worried that his mother back home would be upset that he was wounded," said Todd.

Jack kept his wartime stories to himself for much of his life, but opened up to his family eight years ago when his granddaughter did a history project about him. After that, his family started what turned into a long process to get Jack the recognition he deserved. The task was difficult, since the records they needed had been lost in a fire. But just more than a week ago, they got some good news -- the awards were on the way.

"They said, we'll get them to you in a week or ten days," said Val. "And Craig (one of Jack's other sons) says we didn't think we could wait that long."

Jack has been staying at the Aspirus Hospice Home in Wausau for about two months. With his health deteriorating, his family wanted to make sure he got the medals in time. And on Friday, he did. 

"He hasn't spoken very much but when we told him that they finally came, he got a big smile on his face," said Val. "It was a really touching moment."

Jack earned the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Air Medal and the Purple Heart for his service in the war.

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