udson -- John Mesko does not consider himself a hero.

Mesko was one of 16 veterans who received service medals Dec. 2 in Akron which were either past due or reissued as replacements for lost citations.

"I just got drafted and happened to serve and ended up getting hit," said the 62-year-old U.S. Army veteran, who received a Purple Heart and other Vietnam service medals which had been lost over the years.

"I brought it home and wham it was gone," Mesko said of the original Purple Heart, won in 1970. "It was misplaced and I had no idea where it was."

Mesko did not know if he would have a medal to pass onto his children, until his wife, Phyllis, contacted the office of Sen. Sherrod Brown.

Brown's office had the medal reissued to Mesko.

Phyllis said she contacted Brown's office about her husband's medals while she was trying to obtain several World War II medals which had been issued to her father, Vincent Blanco, a Navy veteran who was at the Battle of the Bulge. Mr. Blanco died in 1994.

Mesko's medals were presented in a ceremony at the Summit County Veterans Service Commission by representatives from Brown's office, along with Dan Hahn, retired U.S. Army major general, and Paul Suscinski, commander of Chapter 699 Military Order of the Purple Heart.

"Ohio's veterans made invaluable contributions to our fight for worldwide peace and democracy," Brown said in a press release. "One of the most rewarding aspects of my job is fighting for Ohio's veterans by ensuring that they receive the benefits they so richly deserve."


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