Lewis Griswold

Griswold: WWII vet John Steinhauer finally gets medals

More than 66 years after being honorably discharged from the U.S. Navy, World War II veteran John Steinhauer finally got his war medals.

Last week, Rep. David Valadao, R-Hanford, presented four medals, a ribbon, button and pin to Steinhauer on behalf of the government.

"I just wanted to get them before I died," said Steinhauer, 87.

Why did it take so long? Steinhauer said his discharge papers failed to include his combat duty.

About four years ago, he went to the Veterans Administration to try to get the matter resolved, but to no avail. At the urging of his children, the Easton resident contacted his local congressional office in Hanford.

"They had it done in two or three weeks," he said.

Steinhauer received not only his combat ribbon, but also a World War II victory medal, American campaign medal, Asiatic campaign medal, European-African-Middle Eastern campaign medal, Navy discharge button and honorable service discharge lapel pin.

He said he spent two years overseas and participated in the invasion of Okinawa. His unit on an ammunition supply ship got credit for helping to shoot down three airplanes.

Serving from 1944 to 1946, Steinhauer was a member of the Armed Guards, 30-man gunnery units assigned to merchant ships. He served on the ammo ship and a tanker, and each ship had 10 guns.

The Armed Guards were established after too many merchant ships were sunk in the Atlantic, but even Navy people didn't know that they trained in gunnery school and served on ships, he said.

"It irritated all the Armed Guards," he said.

Steinhauer, who normally awakes at 6 a.m., said the satisfaction of finally getting his combat ribbon gave him inner peace.

"I feel good," Steinhauer said the next day. "I slept 'til 8 a.m."

TOURISM BOOST: American Way, the in-flight magazine of American Airlines, has an article in its current issue advising travelers to visit Sequoia, Kings Canyon and Yosemite national parks in a three-day trip.

"Ring Around the Mountain" highlights the "Majestic Mountain Loop" starting in Visalia, going through Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, the Oakhurst area and Yosemite National Park.

Two photos illustrate the article, showing giant sequoia trees in snow and Yosemite Mountain Sugar Pine Railroad.

The piece is the fruit of a marketing push by the Visalia Convention and Visitors Bureau, Fresno Yosemite International airport and the Yosemite Sierra Visitors Bureau.

It's producing results, said Danika Heatherly, tourism manager at Visalia CVB.

"We have had about 20 visitor calls in the last few days," she said. Many were from international visitors who saw the article while flying and were adjusting their travel plans, she said.

The article can be seen at fblinks.com/tourism.