CANTON Richard J. Kennell lost all his World War II medals and pins in a fire that destroyed his LaFargeville home 13 months ago.
On Friday morning, Mr. Kennell smiled as Army Reserve Col. William R. Murphy presented him with five replacement medals and pins, including the World War II Victory Medal.
I really appreciate this, the 86-year-old Navy veteran said. I didnt know if I would ever get them again.
Mr. Kennell was among 19 military veterans recognized at a ceremony at United Helpers Maplewood campus. Honorees represented the Air Force, Navy, Army and Coast Guard. The group included 16 residents and employees from Maplewood and three from United Helpers RiverLedge Residence, Ogdensburg.
Each veteran received a plaque and a pin presented by Randy Burke and David Pearson from Canton Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1231. Punch and cookies decorated with patriotic colors added to the festivities.
Maplewood Activities Director Patience R. Boswell said Maplewood staff wanted to honor all of its veterans and decided it would be nice to extend an invitation to those at RiverLedge.
We decided because it was near Armed Forces Day wed recognize everyone. We wanted to make it special for everyone and really honor what they did, Mrs. Boswell said.
Besides Mr. Kennell, honorees were Arnold Newkofsky, Arthur Lee, George MacPherson, Perry Yaw, Earl Sheldon, John Molnar, Gerry Snell, Elwin Lindley, John Klemens, Kenneth Smith, John Pellegrino, Dean Carr, Harold Michelson, John Miller, Richard Valley, Joseph Cosentino, Lawrence Worden and Kimberly McFaddin.
Mr. Valley, 75, said it was very, very heartwarming to be honored at the event. He served in the Navy during the Korean War.
Its been many years since weve been recognized, he said.
Mr. Kennell served as a military engineer who was stationed in the Philippines from 1944 to 1946. Besides the victory medal, his awards included the American Campaign Medal, the Asiatic-Pacific Medal, the Discharge Medal and the Honorable Service Lapel Pin.
We built runways and I operated a bulldozer, he said. I was only a kid. I was just 17.
After the April 2, 2013, blaze took their home, Mr. Kennell and his wife, Phyllis D., moved into the United Helpers Maplewood facility, where their daughter, Brenda J. Jones, is employed as an administrative assistant.