- Associated Press - Sunday, December 20, 2015

NORWALK, Conn. (AP) - Only upon opening boxes of old paperwork did Linda Tanner learn that her late father, Norwalk resident John Borriello, never received his medals for service in the South Pacific during World War II.

“Everything was kind of tucked away. And little by little, I was emptying boxes and then I see my father’s discharge papers,” Tanner said. “And as I was looking at them, I thought, my God, my father had (earned) medals?”

Last week, U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal presented Tanner and her son, John Tanner, both of Norwalk, the medals earned by John Borriello, who died in 1984.

“The medals were part of a past (their families) knew existed, but they didn’t fight this war for the medals,” said Blumenthal, D-Conn. “They fought to preserve democracy and then they come to their families, so they didn’t pound the doors if the Defense Department forgot about their medals.”

For Borriello, preserving democracy meant helping build a key air base on a jungle island in the Dutch East Indies, now Indonesia, while serving as a squadron welder in 13th U.S. Army Air Force Bombing Command.

“He was out there for a long time, in the jungle, working to build that base so that planes could refuel and be sent throughout the Pacific, winning the war against the Japanese,” Blumenthal said.

In recognition of Borriello’s service, his daughter and grandson were presented on his behalf at City Hall on the morning of Dec. 11 the Army Good Conduct Medal, the Philippine Liberation Medal, the World War II Victory Medal, the Asian-Pacific Campaign Medal and the Honorable Service Lapel Button.

“Thank you so much, senator. It means a lot to my son and myself to be here with you on this day,” Linda Tanner said. “And I know my father is looking down and smiling. It was a country he was very proud of and fought hard for. Thank you so much.”

The Tanners thanked Blumenthal’s office and Karen Doyle Lyons, Norwalk Veterans Memorial Committee secretary, for working to arrange the medal presentation.

John Tanner, who was only 13 years old when his grandfather passed away, will proudly keep the medals.

“I didn’t really know my grandfather that well. I remember he was a hard worker. When he came home, his hands were always dirty,” John Tanner said. “I am proud of him, for the medals and all the hard work he put in.”

Borriello returned to Norwalk after the war and worked in landscaping for much of his life.

Mayor Harry W. Rilling reminded that Norwalk honored World War II veterans as part of Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day on Monday, Dec. 7. He echoed Blumenthal’s comments about Borriello’s generation.

“They are the Greatest Generation,” Rilling said.

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Information from: The Hour, http://www.thehour.com

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