Honolulu, HI –
World War II ended on September 2, 1945, when the documents finalizing Japan's surrender were signed aboard the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay. It is only fitting that 70 years after the war ended, Pearl Harbor, where the war began for the United States and the USS Missouri now sits, serves as the site where World War II veteran Charles Wolf would finally receive the medals he earned for his service during the war.
Wolf served as a medic in the United States Army from 1943-1946 at the 54th General Hospital in New Guinea. During his time in service he received a number of awards including medals and ribbons which he was never presented. That did not sit right with Jill Eilert, Wolf’s only daughter.
“Being that he’s a World War II veteran, he’s part of a very important dwindling population,” said Eilert.
Her father assured her that a formal award of the medals was not important, but Jill wanted her father to receive the awards he had earned while serving the nation.
“It just wasn't something that they did at the time,” said Eilert. “He didn't need the medals, he needed to come home and resume his life. He had done his job he had served his country; it was time for him to move on. And that bothered me, so my mission at that point became ‘I have to get his medals, somehow some way.’”
Determined to get her father the medals he had earned, Eilert contacted her congressman who then worked with the Army to get the medals listed on Wolf’s discharge paperwork. Eilert’s congressman also got her in contact with a representative of the Pearl Harbor parks and recreation. The representative had the idea of contacting an Army official to present the medals to Wolf.
A ceremony was arranged where Brig. Gen. Mark Spindler, deputy director of Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA), presented Wolf with a shadow box full of the medals he had earned many years ago during his service to the nation. During the ceremony, Spindler spoke about the “greatest generation” that Wolf had belonged to.
"They are so humble," said Spindler. "They ask for nothing, and they don't realize how much they sacrificed for us. They defined us. The Army of today is how strong it is because of the men and women that went before us."
Wolf thought he was there for an Army Captain’s promotion ceremony, and was surprised when he was then invited up to center stage where he was formally presented with his medals in front of friends and family.
“The next thing I know I hear them saying, ‘we’re honoring Charles Wolf,’” said Wolf. “I looked around, ‘who are they referring to besides me?’”
Eilert was finally able to get her father the awards he had earned, and was able to keep it a secret until the very end.
“You can’t ask for a better ending,” said Eilert. “Somehow we kept it a secret. He’s a very sharp 92 year old.”