GLENS FALLS, N.Y. (NEWS10) – A Navy veteran has received his war medals after 30 years when a mistake in military records kept him from the recognition he deserved.
It’s been 31 years since Navy veteran Joe Gagliardi left the violent grounds of Beirut, Lebanon. He and his team, the 22nd Marine Amphibiuos Unit, were sent to build underground barracks after marines were bombed in October 1983.
“I had about two minutes to tell my parents,” he said.
As soon as he arrived, he found himself in the thick of a war zone.
“I had to drive a truck from one end of a runway to the other, and you could hear the bullets bouncing off the hood,” he said. “I mean, we would run our dozers and their exhaust stacks would look like Swiss cheese.”
Those brave actions earned Gagliardi the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal. But the Navy never gave it to him. The department couldn’t find where his unit was stationed and denied his request. For years, he tried to set the record straight.
“And it wasn’t getting anywhere,” he said.
Gagliardi’s wife then suggested he reached out to Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand. She made a congressional inquiry, sent letters to the Navy and finally secured his rightful respect.
In a statement, Sen. Gillibrand said, “Joseph Gagliardi served his country with bravery and a selfless sense of duty. Now decades later, he’s finally getting the recognition and military medals he deserves.”
The medal now sits on Gagliardi’s dining room table amid memories of how he earned it. He said it’s not only a sign of relief but closure.
Gagliardi also thanked his two commanders that helped him get his name cleared. He also said the Washington County Veterans’ Office has been instrumental in finding the closure he needed as a Navy war veteran.