World War II veteran Harry Topoozian has finally received the military medals he earned for his service in the Army in the 1940s.
Topoozian, 99, enlisted in the Army in March 1941 and served with the 3rd Army under Gen. George S. Patton with the 974th Field Artillery Battalion through October 1945.
Sixty-nine years later, Topoozian still had not received his military medals in recognition of his service.
The reason: His military records were destroyed in a 1973 fire at the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis, Mo.
Mark Topoozian, one of two sons, started researching his father's service in World War II but since the original forms were lost in the fire, several politicians he approached said they could not help.
In one last-ditch effort, Mark Topoozian said he approached Rep. David G. Valadao, R-Hanford, about two years ago. Six months ago, Valadao's involvement resulted in a copy of his father's service record being found. Notation of the medals were in the details of the DD Form 214, Harry Topoozian's release papers.
The oversight of the missing medals was addressed during a ceremony Friday at Topoozian's home east of Malaga when Valadao presented Topoozian with the Good Conduct Medal, American Defense Service Medal, European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal and World War II Victory Medal.
Valadao said many servicemen in World War II often were in a hurry to get home and never read the fine print. Valadao urged anyone who is experiencing problems in tracking down service records to contact their congressional representatives for help.