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World War II Stamford Veteran, 92, Receives Long-Overdue Military Medals

John Gaes, a 92-year-old Stamford resident, receives his long overdue medals from his service in the U.S. Marine Corps during World War II.
John Gaes, a 92-year-old Stamford resident, receives his long overdue medals from his service in the U.S. Marine Corps during World War II. Photo Credit: Jay Polansky
John Gaes, a 92-year-old Stamford resident, receives his long overdue medals from his service in the U.S. Marine Corps during World War II.
John Gaes, a 92-year-old Stamford resident, receives his long overdue medals from his service in the U.S. Marine Corps during World War II. Photo Credit: Jay Polansky
John Gaes and U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal
John Gaes and U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal Photo Credit: Jay Polansky
John Gaes, a 92-year-old Stamford resident, receives his long overdue medals from his service in the U.S. Marine Corps during World War II.
John Gaes, a 92-year-old Stamford resident, receives his long overdue medals from his service in the U.S. Marine Corps during World War II. Photo Credit: Jay Polansky
John Gaes, a 92-year-old Stamford resident, receives his long overdue medals from his service in the U.S. Marine Corps during World War II.
John Gaes, a 92-year-old Stamford resident, receives his long overdue medals from his service in the U.S. Marine Corps during World War II. Photo Credit: Jay Polansky

STAMFORD, Conn. — A 92-year-old veteran from Stamford earned some long-overdue honors on Friday morning in a special ceremony.

U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) presented the medals to Stamford resident John Gaes during a ceremony attended by family, friends and fellow members of the Marine Corps League, Lock City Detachment during a breakfast at Zodys 19th Hole.

“John was at the center of history,” Blumenthal told the small crowd.

Gaes was in the U.S. Marine Corps in the 4th Marine Division’s Tank Battalion. He served honorably during four conflicts in the Pacific — Guadalcanal, Saipan, Tinian, and Iwo Jima.

“John was at the center of history,” Blumenthal told the small crowd.

Gaes was promoted to the rank of Master Sergeant in the 4th Marine Division. He was in command of an armored platoon.

Last year, Blumenthal learned that Gaes needed assistance with obtaining his long-earned military decorations from the war.

The senator’s office contacted the U.S. Marine Corps on behalf of Gaes and followed up until the decorations were issued this year.

Blumenthal presented Gaes with the Combat Action Ribbon, Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal, American Defense Service Medal, American Campaign Medal, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with four bronze campaign stars, World War II Victory Medal, and the Rifle Sharpshooter Badge.

“He is a hero,” Blumenthal said of Gaes. “Like a lot of heroes, he never sought to be recognized.”

Gaes didn’t ask for the medals, Blumenthal said. Tim Huff, an officer in the Lock City Detachment, contacted his office for help receiving the medals for Gaes.

“John, you're a hero and treasure for the community,” State Rep. Caroline Simmons said.

A native of Worcester, Mass., Gaes has lived in Stamford for more than 40 years. He enlisted during World War II, like so many members of the Greatest Generation, Blumenthal said.

Spry and smiling — and, at times, emotional — Gaes described the experience of receiving the medals as “awesome” and “exhilarating.”

He received wide praise from friends and elected officials at the event.

“John, you're a hero and treasure for the community,” said State Rep. Caroline Simmons, who represents the 144th Assembly District.

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