I-Team helps local vet get Purple Heart replaced

Posted at 5:14 PM, Oct 13, 2017

We first met this local World War II veteran last month.  The Oak Creek man was trying to get his Purple Heart replaced.  His only wish is to be buried with the medal, but his request kept getting delayed.  The I-Team picked up the story and got results. 

The last notice from the United States Marine Corps extended 93-year-old Joe Juszczak's case to October 30th, but the day after our story aired in September Joe got some good news.

He was first awarded the Purple Heart 74 years ago.  At just 17 Joe was fighting in a key battle against the Japanese.  Joe's platoon was ambushed as it fought to take back an island in the Pacific.  Joe was injured by enemy fire and spent a year-and-a-half recovering in the hospital.

Years later, he realized his Purple Heart was missing, "it got lost when we moved," Joe told us.

But now the medal he earned has been replaced.  The local marines with Fox Company made sure that also came with an awards presentation.  But it took a long time to get to this day.  Last year Joe's neighbor jumped in to help.  Alex Zimny worked through Congressman Paul Ryan's office to get the replacement medal and told us, "I really thought this would have gone a lot quicker."

Ryan's office submitted a request in December to the United States Marine Corps.  After almost a year of delays the I-Team got involved.   Less than 24 hours after our story aired the USMC informed the congressman's office it had Joe's Purple Heart.

For Fox Company's Captain, Marcus Carlstrom, honoring the greatest generation is a priority for the Marines.  "It's a huge honor for us to do this for those generations that have gone before us." 

Joe also earned a handful of other awards for his service, ones he says he never received.  He commented, "I'm proud to do battle with the marines." A tribute to how much Joe sacrificed on an island in the Pacific more than 70 years ago.

In the letter that came with Joe's medals, the head of the Marine Corps Military Awards branch apologized for the delay.  Joe plans to put all his new hardware in a shadow box.