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WW II vet receives medals -- 65 years late

Nov. 11, 2011 at 10:55 AM

WEST HOLLYWOOD, Calif., Nov. 11 (UPI) -- A California World War II veteran denied service medals 65 years ago because of a bad-conduct discharge now has them, including a Bronze Star, officials said.

Loren Jutkins, 89, of West Hollywood received the medals Thursday, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The Navy veteran, who took part in landings at Iwo Jima and Okinawa, received the Bronze Star with Oak Leaf Cluster and the Liberation of the Philippines medal.

U.S. Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., presented the medals after Jutkins' military records were upgraded to a general discharge.

"Your country owes you a great debt of gratitude," Waxman told Jutkins.

"This Veterans Day will be different, that's for sure," Jutkins said.

Friends of Jutkins, a retired former principal clerk at UCLA's Institute for Social Science Research, had encouraged him to appeal the Navy's 1946 bad-conduct discharge.

He had grown up in the Mojave Desert isolated from others his age.

"There were no other kids. In the service, I finally met guys my own age. They became my friends," Jutkins said. "One glass of beer was enough to get me drunk. "

He said he returned to his ship late several times, was considered AWOL and once ended up in the brig after getting drunk.

A friend, Joe Carafello, helped Jutkins write an appeal of the bad-conduct discharge to the Naval Review Board. The appeal noted the medals Jutkins had earned, his participation in a high school ROTC program and his having stopped drinking 47 years ago.

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