Veteran’s medals reissued on eve of 99th birthday

NEW HAVEN >> Jacob Greenberg never spoke much about his service in World War II to his daughter, Janet, but while looking through old photos of her father, she noticed something was missing.

“I saw photographs where there were medals,” she said.

As far as where those medals went, she said she could only assume they were lost.

“My father never really spoke of it,” she said. “I think it’s typical of his generation to not talk about yourself too much.”

Two days shy of Greenberg’s 99th birthday, he was reissued those medals Friday, thanks to U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-3.

“We are thankful and thank God Jacob is here with us today,” DeLauro said Friday morning at the Mary Wade Home of New Haven, where Greenberg has stayed for two weeks.

DeLauro told Greenberg that she married a Greenberg herself, which made Jacob Greenberg smile.

During WWII, Greenberg joined the Army Air Forces in January 1942 as a clerk for the 5th Air Force 91st Photographic Wing, according to DeLauro’s office.

Greenberg, a New Haven resident, served 1942-46, doing photography and mapping over Japan in then-enemy territory.

During the war, the 91st Photographic Wing “was the primary source of aerial photography and visual intelligence and mapping for Fifth Air Force in the Southwest Pacific Theater, according to a release from DeLauro’s office.

“Its assigned units flew unarmed over enemy territory, photographing Japanese airfields, harbors, beach defenses, and personnel areas in New Guinea, the Bismarcks, Borneo, and the southern Philippines.

“They also scouted target areas and enemy troop positions to provide intelligence for Air Force and Army units,” the release said.

In August 1945, the U.S. military dropped atomic bombs over Hiroshima and Nagasaki, killing more than 100,000 people, most of them civilians, which led to the end of the war.

DeLauro said Greenberg was honorably discharged, and what he did helped to reverse the “tyranny” enacted at the bombing of Pearl Harbor.

“What Jacob did, what he endured, and what service people endure every day in our military must not be forgotten,” DeLauro said.

Connecticut Commissioner of Veterans’ Affairs Sean Connolly was unable to make the event Friday, so DeLauro presented Greenberg with several medals: the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with three bronze stars, the World War II Victory Medal, the Antarctica Service Medal, the Good Conduct Medal, a Philippine Liberation Ribbon and an Honorable Service Lapel Button for World War II.

Greenberg was awarded the Connecticut Wartime Service Medal, presented to him by DeLauro on behalf of Connelly.

David Hunter, president and CEO of Mary Wade, took a moment before DeLauro presented the medals to thank her for supporting medicaid expansion.

“The general public doesn’t realize that Medicaid is the primary funding for skilled nursing programs in our country,” he said. “With block grants, people may not receive the skilled nursing services when they need it.”

Hunter said skilled nursing services are essential and life-saving for those who receive them.

“They’re not here because they want to be,” he said.

In fact, Greenberg and his family planned to have the medal ceremony at home until he had a fall, Janet Greenberg said. She said DeLauro was flexible in being able to move the ceremony to the facility.