After nearly 40 years, an Albany navy vet finally received the war medals he deserved. U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand helped secure the medals, which arrived just in time for this week's Flag Day ceremony at South Mall Towers, where an Albany police officer and Navy veteran Eric Sprague proudly presented the honors to the 63 year-old soldier. The Albany resident, who wore the same flight suit he donned during his Vietnam-era service, received the National Defense Service Medal, Meritorious Unit Commendation Ribbon, Navy discharge button and Meritorious Unit Commendation citation.
Senator Gillibrand said, "These medals represent a small token of appreciation for our brave men and women who have shown heroism, sacrifice, and valor in their service to our great country. I thank Mr. Barrett for his years of service to protect our freedom and hope these medals will bring him closure."
Mr. Barrett said, "I am thrilled that I finally received these medals. It made my day, if not my life. These medals remind me of the veterans who proudly served and risked their lives for our country. I thank Senator Gillibrand for securing these medals, which gives me great honor."
In 1968, John E. Barrett enlisted in the military where he was trained in the French language and in cryptology special communications, intercepting top-secret French intelligence in Spain and Morocco during air combat and flying aboard EA-3B Skywarrior -- a double-engine jet bomber designed for electronic warfare. He joined the active reserve duty in 1972 and was honorably discharged in 1974.
After Mr. Barrett made many attempts to obtain his medals to no avail, he contacted Senator Gillibrand's office for help. Senator Gillibrand's office reached out to the Department of Navy and secured the medals, which finally arrived in Albany this week.