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BEDFORD, Va. (AP) — The family of a Virginia infantryman killed in action during World War II has finally received the medals he earned.
Tollie Haynes of Rustburg spent the last three years trying to find out why his family never received the Purple Heart and Bronze Star earned by his brother, Alonzo, who was killed near Florence, Italy in 1944. The News & Advance reports that the family contacted U.S. Sen. Mark Warner, and on Feb. 28 received a letter stating the medals were on the way.
"We broke down in tears," Tollie Haynes said.
The family met with authorities at the National D-Day Memorial in Bedford to receive the medals. Memorial co-president April Cheek-Messier said the site often hosts medal ceremonies, including some for past service. However, she can't remember any ceremonies for awards received so long after they were earned.
Tollie Haynes thanked authorities for presenting his family with the medals and honoring his brother's sacrifice.
After the ceremony, Tollie Haynes laid a wreath for his brother at the memorial's Final Tribute Sculpture. The statue depicts an upright rifle topped with a helmet and wrapped with dog tags — common grave marker for World War II soldiers.
Set in the wreath was a photo of a smiling, uniformed Alonzo Haynes flanked by the insignia of the Purple Heart and Bronze Star.