ICYMI: Rep. Kelly Awards Medals to World War II Veteran from Hermitage
92 year-old former POW receives Bronze Star, other honors
WASHINGTON — U.S. Representative Mike Kelly (R-PA) hosted a ceremony yesterday at his district office in Sharon, PA, at which he awarded the Bronze Star and other distinguished medals to Mr. Chester “Chet” Burger of Hermitage, PA, for his service in World War II.
It has been more than 70 years since Chet Burger left the service, but on Wednesday, the 92-year-old from Hermitage finally received some long-overdue recognition.
On Wednesday, Valley Congressman Mike Kelly, R-Pa., presented Burger with eight service medals and pins, including the Bronze Star Medal, for his service.
Burger said he spent Christmas Eve of 1943 on a ship going to Africa, where he was trained. At 19, he was captured in Italy and spent 12 months in a German P.O.W. camp.
Last fall, Burger’s daughter Darlene learned from the local Veterans Affairs director that her dad was eligible for the medals.
“He said contact Congressman Kelly’s office, and he said he’s a man that will work as a liaison,” Darlene Taylor explained.
After much paperwork and months of waiting, the awards finally arrived. Burger said he will split them among his three children — the Bronze Star will go to his son, Chet Burger, Jr.
“Words don’t explain it. It’s like, they didn’t give out a whole lot of Bronze Stars,” Chet Burger, Jr. said.
Chester M. Burger’s family finally got the World War II Army veteran to apply for the Bronze Star, Combat Infantry Badge, Prisoner of War and several other medals he earned during his service in North Africa and Italy.
The Hermitage man, surrounded by his children, a grandson and several cousins, received the medals Wednesday during a ceremony in Sharon. When he was discharged from the Army, he received two Purple Heart medals and a Rifleman badge.
Darlene Taylor, Burger’s daughter, learned about his eligibility for eight other medals through the Veterans Administration. She got information from her dad and applied with the help of staffers in the office of U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly. Kelly presented the medals Wednesday at his Sharon office.
Chet Burger weighed 205 pounds when he was taken prisoner by the Germans in 1944.
His body had dwindled to 123 pounds when the Allies liberated his camp a year later.
On Wednesday, he will receive a Bronze Star, a Combat Infantry Badge and other medals of distinction — 70 years after the war ended. U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly will host the pinning ceremony at his district office in Sharon.
There is a lot of paperwork involved in applying for a medal, Kelly's spokesman, Tom Qualtere said. …
Someone contacted Kelly's office and told the congressman's aides about Burger's time as a prisoner of war, Qualtere said.
Kelly's staff called Burger a few months ago and told him he would receive several medals.
“I'm lucky I didn't die before they gave them to me,” Burger joked.