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Capito delivers overdue medals

August 26, 2006|by MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.VA. - Joseph R. Priestley thought he might have earned a medal for his military service in the Vietnam War, and made an inquiry with U.S. Rep. Shelley Moore Capito's office several weeks ago.

The 78-year-old retired U.S. Navy lieutenant colonel was correct. But he didn't expect John Reisenweber, Capito's Martinsburg office representative, to arrive at his Martinsburg home with a brown envelope containing 13 more.

"I didn't know I was eligible for some of them," said Priestley, who enlisted Oct. 5, 1945.

He retired in 1969 after more than 23 years, and was recognized for his service in World War II, the Korean War and Vietnam.

Capito, R-W.Va. formally presented the Kanawha County native with the long overdue honors Friday morning in Martinsburg.

"She gave me a real big hug, too," Priestley said.

Priestly received the Air Medal, Good Conduct Medal (Navy), World War II Victory Medal, American Campaign Medal, Navy Occupation Service Medal, China Service Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Korean Service Medal, United Nations Service Medal, Vietnam Service Medal, Combat Action Ribbon, Honorable Service Lapel Pin, Discharge Button and Republic of Korea War Service Medal.

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In a brief interview Friday afternoon, Priestley recalled "rubbing elbows" at times with Arizona U.S. Sen. John McCain's grandfather while aboard the USS Shangri-La, his first ship assignment.

Though Priestley didn't see any action in World War II, Vietnam was an entirely different situation, he said.

"I managed to get rid of quite a few of the Viet Cong over there," Priestley said.

The medal presentation to Priestley was the first event of several that Capito took part in Friday in Berkeley and Jefferson counties.

"Many times, (veterans) don't get the medals that they are due," Capito said before giving a "surprise" speech at the 14th Women & Money Conference at the Clarion Hotel and Conference Center in Shepherdstown, W.Va.

Capito was expected to visit with Schonstedt Instrument Co. officials at the company's headquarters in the Burr Industrial Park in Bardane, W.Va. An official familiar with the visit indicated the business might expand. The company provides solutions for the detection and location of objects and phenomena below the surface of the ground or water.

Capito also was expected to stop by the Jefferson County Fair in Leetown, W.Va., for chicken barbecue before returning to Martinsburg for the football game between Martinsburg and Hedgesville high schools. She was invited to attend the game as the guest of Berkeley County Schools Superintendent Manny P. Arvon, Reisenweber said.

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