Family of Earl Bailey

‘Complete surprise’: World War II veteran awarded medals 72-years later

November 12, 2018

By Matt Saintsing /

Earl Bailey, a 94-year-old World War II veteran, waited a lifetime to see the Army ribbons and medals he earned but never received. 

With the help of his family and a few elected officials, Bailey was honored by his church and finally able to see and hold his awards after waiting 72 years. 

“It was a complete surprise,” Bailey tells Connecting Vets. “I didn’t expect anything near like what happened, but it was nice.” 

Family of Earl Bailey

The Tri-County Assembly of God church in Fairfield, Ohio, honors all the congregation’s veterans every Veterans Day, but Bailey didn’t expect to see this: his Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal, Good Conduct Medal, World War II Victory Medal, Presidential Unit Citation, and the Distinguished Unit Citation, all presented by Army Lt. Gen Claude Kicklighter (Retired).

Bailey served in the China-Burma-India Theater during World War II, a rugged and treacherous area, where he helped pilots run supplies to units fighting in Asia, offering a hand with everything from loading planes to from keeping the pilots’ schedules. 

“It was very dangerous to fly because you had the rough country under you,” says Bailey. “If you went down, even if you bailed out there was a slight chance you’d get out.”