For years he had the combat infantryman badge, but John Beach never knew it automatically qualified him for the Bronze Star. He also didn't know a trip to the Roanoker would be one he can't forget.
A late lunch in Roanoke seemed odd to Beach, but he couldn't quite figure out why. Even though for months, he and his children had been trying to get him the honor he so deserves.
“Getting this, I’m not sure why at this point, but it’s become very important to him,” says his daughter, Cyndi Stultz.
The medal is given to any solider who bravely sees the horrors of war, and Sergeant Beach saw his share fighting in the Italian Campaign.
“They asked for volunteers to be scouts,” Stultz says. “And he was thinking things like the boy scouts and so he and his buddy volunteered. Well they didn’t realize that what they needed to do was to advance across an open field and draw fire from the Germans.”
So after filing the right papers and getting a little help from Senator Webb's office, Saturday afternoon-- he has his star.
Nearly seventy years after he still remembers being the bait for the enemy when he was only a teenager.
“We drew the fire,” says Beach. “We could hear the artillery and then the bullets break in the air going ‘pop, pop, pop, pop!”
And for the man who wouldn't even tell his children much about his time in battle, holding his star, he still wouldn't say what misery he witnessed.
“I think about being there, I’m recalling some times that happened over there in my mind,” he says holding the medal, tears coming down his face. “I’m real proud of it. Real proud. Real proud.”
But maybe the star speaks for itself.