Oscar Johnson, 85, became a Tama resident some 21 years ago. Along with his wife, Cha, he came to Tama to visit a friend here in 1992. The friend is Gordon Garske whom he first met while serving in the U.S. Army in Korea in the 1950s.
And, now, about 64 years later, Oscar's friendship with Gordon was made even stronger with Garske playing a key role in helping Oscar receive his U.S. military service medals - medals Johnson had never been issued but so rightfully deserved.
U.S. Congressman Bruce Braely (1st District-Iowa) presented the host of medals in a ceremony at the Tama-Toledo Country Club on Wednesday, April 16. Friends and neighbors of the Johnsons including members of the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars were on hand.
Tama resident Oscar Johnson, a U.S. Army veteran of three wars finally received his service medals at the Tama-Toledo Country Club on Wednesday, April 16. U.S. Congressman Bruce Braley made the presentation in a ceremony before Johnson’s family and friends including fellow members of the American Legion from Tama and Toledo posts and the T-T?VFW?Post 6607.
Oscar Johnson said he quit high school in Norfolk, Va., in 1946 to join the U.S. Army.
"We were going on really hard times. I joined the Army to help support my parents," Johnson recalled on Wednesday. During this service at the end of World War II?found Johnson guarding Japanese prisoners in the Philippines. After that duty he began service in the Army Reserves in 1949.
In 1953, Johnson was back in the active military and was sent to Korea. There he said he started out in laundry, but moved on to serve "mostly in transportation."
"I didn't want to get shot at," he admits. However, in Korea, he found himself delivering supplies to the front line troops near the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) until the cease fire.
He then spent the next years serving in Germany, France, Belgium and Viet Nam.
Following retirement from active duty in 1972, Johnson went to work for the San Diego Navy Credit Union for five years and then it was on to Central Texas College for a 10-year stint working with military students in college.
"Oscar Johnson's decades-long service to our country is something every American should honor and celebrate," Braley said. "I'm happy to have the opportunity today to present him with these service medals, and hope they can serve as a much-deserved early birthday present." (Johnson's 85th birthday was on April 18.)
Johnson was awarded the World War II Victory Medal, the Korean Service Medal, the Korean War Service Medal, the Army Commendation Medal, the Good Conduct Medal (3rd award), the National Defense Service Medal with 1 bronze service star, the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, the Vietnam Service Medal with 4 bronze service stars, the Republic of Vietnam Campaign Ribbon with 1960 Device, the Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross with Palm Unit Citation, the Expert Marksmanship Badge (Carbine), the Sharpshooter Marksmanship Badge (Rifle), and the Driver Badge.