East Texas World War II Veteran finally receives medals after 69 years

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - 69 years ago today in 1945 would have been the fourth day of fighting in the Battle of Iwo Jima during World War II.

Lufkin's Ben Weber was there on the Japanese island fighting for his country.

Sunday, Weber stood in front of his church, family and friends and finally received the medals he earned as soldier.

The almost 90-year-old Ben Weber put on the exact uniform he wore in the Army nearly 70 years to receive the medals he earned while serving the United States during World War II.

"It's really been a blessing for me because my family always said you never got what you deserved," said Weber.

Congressman Louie Gohmert said, "Now people now understand that what someone like Ben gave is just priceless. It is immeasurable."

"It was so special you know things that you think is lost and when you get 'em just think about it," said Weber.

Weber was shot in the eye and in the leg during the battle for Iwo Jima but as he stood on the stage today to receive the honors he earned for his sacrifice his mind was on his fallen comrades.

"I lost several men," said Weber. "I was a leader and I didn't know how to handle that at first and I think a lot of men don't. These are the things that I think about and I don't deserve. These men died and I'm here. I did lose and eye and part of a leg but hey I do anything I want to do and I'm happy."

Gohmert presented Weber with a flag that flew over the Capitol, his Honorable Service pin, a medal for expert level marksmanship, the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign medal and the World War II Victory medal.

Weber already has a Silver Star Medal which is the third highest honor in the nation.

"It's people like Ben standing up that has made a difference," said Gohmert.

Weber said he didn't join the Army for the medals but because he loves the service.

A fire destroyed most Weber's service and injury records thus playing a role in his medals arriving late but Congressman Gohmert says he will not stop until Weber receives his Purple Heart.

Weber is a native of New York but calls Lufkin his home. He joined the service at just 17-years-old on Long Island. He owns a courier service with First Bank and Trust and is in good shape and good health.

Weber teaches Sunday school every week at Southside Baptist Church in Lufkin and thanked the church for the blessings they have bestowed upon him after he received his medals.

Weber was excited to have three full rows of his family present while he received his medals.

Weber's family says he has also adopted several of his grandchildren and great grandchildren.

He says he hopes to and wants to meet all the people in the area who are going to serve in the military or who have already.

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