Menendez Posthumously Presents Long-Overdue Medals to Widow of Late WWII Vet

Menendez Posthumously Presents Long-Overdue Medals to Widow of Late WWII Vet

ROSELLE, NJ- U.S. Senator Robert Menendez yesterday posthumously presented two long-overdue medals of distinguished service to the family of late World War II veteran Chester Banasiak of Roselle. Banasiak, who passed away in April at 94, earned the American Defense Service Medal and the Philippine Liberation Medal with one Bronze Star for his heroic service.

"I'm honored to be here today to right a long-standing wrong and finally present the medals Chester rightfully earned serving honorably in the United States Army Air Force in the Philippines in World War II," said Sen. Menendez, as he handed the medals to Banasiak's widow Josie and daughter LuAnn Osborn.

During a private ceremony in the Banasiak home, Sen. Menendez also presented the family with an American flag he had flown over the U.S. Capitol in honor of Banasiak's valiant service as an airman from 1941 to the end of the war. In addition, the Senator had Banasiak's official Army record changed to reflect the medals earned.

"He's looking down right now and saying: 'I'm really happy I got that.' He would have liked a very good party. He would have loved that," Osborn said. "It's beautiful. I know he enjoyed serving very much, enjoyed being in the Philippines, serving there and helping the people. He loved serving his country."

Chester Banasiak was born in Bayonne, raised in Linden, and was one of three brothers who served in the military during World War II. During the 1930's, he served in the Civilian Conservation Corps. He and his wife Josie were married 66 years and lived together in Roselle for more than a half century.

"He was a good father and a good husband," said Josie Banasiak. "He never complained."

After the War, Chester Banasiak worked as a boilermaker first class for the Cities Service Oil Company of Linden and was an active member of VFW Post 335 in Cranford and the Disabled American Veterans.

"We in New Jersey owe Chester much more than we could every repay," the Senator told the family. "We owe him the eternal gratitude of a grateful nation. On behalf of the people of New Jersey and every American, we remember Chester for his service and the gift of freedom he helped preserve for all of us."

The Philippine Liberation Medal is a military award of the Republic of the Philippines, which was created by an order of Commonwealth Army of the Philippines Headquarters on December 20, 1944. The award was presented to any service member, of both Philippine Commonwealth and allied militaries, who participated in the liberation of the Philippine Islands between the dates of October 17, 1944 and September 2, 1945. The Philippine Liberation Medal is intended to recognize military service in the last days of World War II when the military of Japan was driven from the Philippines and then to eventually surrender in September 1945.

The American Defense Service Medal was a military award of the United States Armed Forces, established by Executive Order 8808, by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, on June 28, 1941. The medal was intended to recognize those military service members who had served on active duty between September 8, 1939 and December 7, 1941.

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