At a private ceremony that brought him to tears, 98-year-old Louis A. Cambio was presented with long overdue medals he earned while serving in World War II.
With Memorial Day and the unofficial start of summer beginning this weekend, it’s a time in which those who died in active military service protecting our freedoms are remembered by a grateful nation. But Monday’s ceremony, led by Senator Jack Reed at Cambio’s home on Calef Street, was a chance to honor and thank a living hero.
“First of all, this is a great honor. Thank you for allowing me to come to your home,” said Sen. Reed to Cambio. “What we want to do is recognize the tremendous service of Mr. Cambio and the armed forces of the United States. Your efforts and the efforts of millions of Americans, men and women, gave us a chance – my generation and the next generations – to prosper and to recommit ourselves to the same principles that you fought so eloquently and so decisively for.”
Cambio’s family recently contacted the senator’s office regarding his accomplishments during the war, with the hopes of obtaining any medals he may not have received following his discharge from the Army. Reed’s office was able to procure the World War II Victory Medal and the Honorable Service Lapel Button for Cambio. They also acknowledged that Cambio might have been due more service commendations. However, time and a fire in a military records office have taken their toll and they were unable to gather his complete records.
During the ceremony, special orders were read, stating, “Mr. Cambio was in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Army and reflects great credit upon himself and the United States of America.”
Cambio’s immediate family attended the impassioned ceremony, their eyes filled with tears of pride as his accomplishments were explained and his stories shared. Having lived in Johnston for more than 90 years, he told the senator how he lost his brother, who had a 2-year-old baby girl at the time, on the beaches of Normandy in France during the D-Day invasion.
Sen. Reed then pinned Cambio’s medal onto his chest while joking that the veteran might now be awarded a Purple Heart should he accidentally get pinched with the pin. When asked by the senator if he’d like to share a few words, Cambio did exactly that.
“I want to thank everybody who came to see me,” before he became still and then silently cried into his hands, unable to say more.
“That’s okay,” said Sen. Reed, who consoled Cambio and placed his arms around his shoulders. “You did the work already; you don’t have to say more. You did the work in 1944 and 1945, and the whole world still listens. Thank you very much for your service and sacrifice”