Rep. Barletta presents long overdue medals to family of WWII veteran

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CARLISLE, Pa. – Congressman Lou Barletta (PA-11) presented posthumous, long-overdue medals today to the family of World War II veteran Corporal Lester Michael Shearer, who was killed in action in Italy on March 24, 1945.  Corporal. Shearer was awarded a Purple Heart and a Combat Infantry Badge 1st Award.  Barletta’s office secured the medals from the U.S. Army on behalf of Shearer’s son, Gary Shearer, who was only two years old at the time of his father’s death at the age of 29.

“As a nation, we have just observed Memorial Day, which is a day we set aside to honor American war heroes who sacrificed everything for our freedoms, just like Corporal Lester Shearer did more than half a century ago,” Barletta said.  “To paraphrase General George S. Patton, it is one thing to mourn our military dead, but it is better to thank God that such heroes lived in the first place.”

Corporal Shearer entered the Army on December 19, 1942 and had been granted a 10-day furlough from Camp Fort Story, Virginia in late 1943 to visit his wife and new son.  He was serving with the 11th Armored Infantry Battalion, 1st Armored Division when he was killed in 1945.  He is buried at the American Cemetery in Florence, Italy.

Corporal Shearer’s military records may have been among documents destroyed by a 1973 fire at the National Personnel Records Center in Overland, Missouri.  The fire consumed many Army records spanning the years 1912 through 1959, and Air Force records for personnel with surnames Hubbard through Z for the years 1947 through 1963.  Barletta’s office frequently assists veterans and their families piece together enough information to apply for a re-issuance of medals earned in service.

“Corporal Shearer never came home from the war, but his sacrifice should never be forgotten,” Barletta said.  “Presenting these medals is but a small way we can honor his memory, for we owe him and his fellow American heroes a debt we cannot ever fully repay.”