NEWTON,Iowa -- For ninety-eight years America has saluted the many who have served our country with Veterans Day ceremonies, but far too many, like Gerry Trier's brother Bill Schmitz a World War II veteran from Ottumwa, didn't return home to receive their thanks. "Western Union pulled up and had a telegram and my mother said when she took the telegram she said which one? Not knowing it would be Bill because I had two other brothers in the war," said Gerry.
Bill, an Army Air Corp. 5th Grade Technician died June 10th 1942 as a prisoner of war after surviving what is known as the Bataan Death March. "I can still see us sitting on the front porch and that will stay with me forever," said Gerry.
Even after his death, his accomplishments went unrecognized until this week, 75 years later, when Gerry received her brother's medals including, a purple heart, a World War II Victory Medal and the Bronze Star. She said, "It means a lot to my family because we went through so much in World War II that it's really worth it."
She's had over seven decades to learn to live with her brothers loss but never stopped fighting for his accomplishments or recognizing the many others who gave so much for freedom. She said, "After 75 years, it seemed like a completion."
Newton's American Legion Post 111 and Iowa Air National Guard Assistant Adjutant General William DeHaes were on hand earlier this week to present Gerry with her brother's medals.