World War II Veteran, 95, Gets Purple Heart, 9 Other Medals

A 95-year-old California World War II veteran is being honored with 10 medals, including a Purple Heart, that his congressman says were long overdue.

Jimmie Bridges, of Bakersfield, was presented Wednesday with a Purple Heart, Silver Star, Bronze Star and seven other honors.

"These were the most medals that I've ever presented to one veteran at one time," said Rep. Kevin McCarthy.

It's unclear why Bridges never received his medals, but McCarthy's office said he presents awards to veterans who never received their citations from time to time.

"Sometimes, it's beareaucratic mishaps, sometimes people don't realize that this is something that they were supposed to be awarded," Michael Long, communications director for Rep. McCarthy, told NBC Owned Stations.

"In a lot of cases when we’re dealing with World War II or Vietnam veterans, recordkeeping was mostly paper," Long said.

It came to light that Bridges never received his medals when he went to the Kern County Veteran's Service Department a few months ago. While talking about an unrelated issue, the issue of his medals came up, according to McCarthy's office.

At the suggestion of the Veteran's Service Department, Bridges contacted Rep. McCarthy's office in March 2015. On Wednesday, May 6, the paperwork was completed, and Bridges got his citations.

Bridges said he remembers the day he enlisted like it was yesterday.

"We saw a sign: 'Uncle Sam wants you,'" Bridges told NBC affiliate KGET. "I said to my cousin, 'Let's go join the Army.'"

He joined the Army in 1940, later fought in World War II and spent another three years on active duty after the war ended.

The medals he was awarded were:

  • Purple Heart
  • Silver Star with one bronze oak leaf cluster
  • Bronze Star Medal with one bronze oak leaf cluster
  • Pres. Unit Citation with one bronze oak leaf
  • American Defense Service Medal
  • American Campaign Medal
  • U.N. Service Medal
  • European, African, Middle Eastern Campaign Medal
  • WWII Victory Medal
  • Army of Occupation Medal with German Clasp
  • Honorable Service Lapel Button, WWII 
Contact Us