More than 50 years after he served our country in the Korean War, there were honors Friday for a local veteran who's been waiting a long time.
Bruce Murray, 78, rolled into the American Legion Post 26 in downtown Bakersfield, escorted by the Legion Riders, thinking he was part of some ceremonial event to benefit the post. He didn't know that everyone inside was there for him.
He was a paratrooper and a prisoner of war in the Korean conflict. Documentation of the four medals he earned were destroyed in a fire in Denver in 1973 at a military repository. The Korean Service Medal, the National Defense Medal, the United Nations' Service Medal and even a medal for good conduct.
With the unrelenting efforts of his family and strong support from the office of Congressman Jim Costa, those medals were delivered on Friday in a surprise ceremony after two years of cutting through the red tape.
"Our office believes no problem is too big or too small as long as it's meritorious, and getting Bruce's medals were indeed meritorious," said Congressman Costa.
The daunting task of proving that Murray deserved those medals became part of Field Assistant Kim Shaefer's life.
"He's been denied so many times and these medals," said Shaefer, "it's important that he finally got some recognition. I'm really proud of him and it means a lot to me."
For Murray's daughter, Beverly Camp and her husband Jim, it was a tearful and terrifically satisfying day to see dad get his due.
"Even though he's very quiet about it, I can assure you this is a very happy moment for all of us," said Beverly Camp.
For the soft-spoken patriot, it's been a grateful day.
"I can't believe it," said Murray. "I can't tell you how may years it's been. And all these people out here, I know them all saying 'what are they doing here?' And this is it."