- Associated Press - Friday, April 8, 2016

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - A 93-year-old baker in Omaha can now wear the medals he earned during combat missions in World War II.

The Omaha World-Herald (https://bit.ly/1SjyvsN ) reports that Maj. Gen. Daryl Bohac pinned an Air Medal with silver and bronze oak leaf clusters and five other awards on Claudio Orsi’s jacket Wednesday in Democratic U.S. Rep. Brad Ashford’s office.

Orsi has received the medals after more than 70 years since the last of his 43 combat missions in the Pacific. Ashford’s office helped his family go through the process of obtaining them. Besides the Air Medal, Orsi also earned the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal, the Philippine Liberation Ribbon, the Good Conduct Medal, the World War II Victory Medal and the Honorable Service Lapel Button.

Orsi’s father was a World War I veteran who opened Orsi’s Italian Bakery & Pizzeria in Omaha’s Little Italy in 1919. Orsi was married with a newborn son and working at the bakery when the Army drafted him in December 1942. Orsi joined a 10-man B-24 bomber crew.

While on his first combat mission in December 1943, Orsi’s plane was forced to land on a Guadalcanal airstrip because it was low on fuel during a fierce enemy attack.

“That was the scariest day for me,” Orsi told the newspaper in 2011.

Orsi and his childhood friend Salvatore “Sam” Sambasile - a B-17 gunner who spent seven months of World War II in a German prison camp - traveled to Washington, D.C., on an Honor Flight and saw the World War II Memorial.

“We’re just two buddies who grew up together, joined the Air Force together, and now we’re going to visit the memorial together,” Orsi said at the time.

Orsi’s health has since declined, but he smiled as Bohac pinned the overdue medals on his jacket. Sambasile was by his side once again.

“It really doesn’t seem like it’s real,” Orsi said.


This story has been corrected to show that Brad Ashford is a U.S. representative, not a state representative.


Information from: Omaha World-Herald, https://www.omaha.com

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