HOBART | A 66-year-old Hobart man waited 44 years to receive a commendation medal due him from his U.S. Army service in the late 1960s.
The wait for Julian Quarnstrom ended on Veterans Day, when he received the commendation medal and other service medals at a special ceremony presided over by U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly, D-Ind.
"I was so impressed with what they did and how they did it. Joe got up and gave a speech, then handed out the medals. He didn't leave the auditorium until all the vets had left. I was so impressed," Quarnstrom said.
The Veterans Day ceremony, during which three other veterans were honored, was last week at the Richard L. Roudebush Veterans Hospital Clinic in Indianapolis.
Those attending the ceremony with Quarnstrom included his wife, Luz Quarnstrom; his sister, Ava Miller, of Lake Station; and his nephew, David Albritten, of Warsaw, Ind.
Quarnstrom said he hadn't even given much though to the commendation medal until earlier this year when he became reacquainted, through the Internet, with Army buddy Chuck Rucker.
Rucker, who lives in St. Louis, needed information about their service together in Vietnam. It was then Quarnstrom looked at his separation papers from the Army.
"I didn't think I had enough time in the service, but I looked at my separation papers from the Army and it said I was still listed to receive them," Quarnstrom said.
Quarnstrom said he contacted Donnelly's office seeking help and was called last week with the good news he was to receive his long overdue medal and several others he was owed.
"Donnelly also gave a speech on the Senate floor and mentioned my name," Quarnstrom said.
Quarnstrom grew up in the Chicago area but moved with his family to Gary in the late 1960s.
Quarstrom attended Wirt High School and got married in May 1967. He was drafted and sent to Vietnam later that same year.
"I got out of the service in April of 1969," Quarnstrom said.
Quarnstrom, who worked in the Chicago Tribune production department for 37 years, said he had always wanted his medals but never pursued the matter.
"What started it was talking with an old friend. I started thinking about the time in my life that I have left, and that's what started it. I was very grateful to receive the medals," Quarnstrom said.