Cicilline Ends Decades Long Wait for War Hero, Secures Long-Overdue Bronze Star Medal
PAWTUCKET – Leo Beland, a lifelong Rhode Islander who served in the United States Army during the Normandy Campaign, today received the Bronze Star Medal that should have been presented to him 66 years ago.
“I honestly thought this day might never come,” said Beland. “I’m grateful that Congressman Cicilline helped make today possible. After so many years of frustration with the federal government, it’s reassuring to know that I have a Congressman who is working hard for me.”
Beland, who was a 20-year old Central Falls resident at the time he enlisted in October 1942, served as a Corporal in the 329th Infantry Regiment of the U.S. Army. A recipient of the Purple Heart, he was injured during the Normandy Campaign and later received an honorable discharge from the Army in November 1945. Although Beland’s personnel files indicate that he should have also been awarded the Bronze Star Medal for his service, he never received the award he earned.
“Mr. Beland is a true hero who put his life on the line to protect our country during one of the most destructive wars our world has ever known,” said Cicilline. “We have a responsibility to make sure he receives the recognition he deserves, and I was determined to make sure this happened.”
After hearing Beland’s story, Cicilline directed his staff to work with the National Personnel Records Center to find out what went wrong. Over the course of several weeks, Cicilline’s staff pored over numerous documents from Beland’s time in the Armed Forces and worked with the National Personnel Records Center to secure his Bronze Star, which Cicilline presented to Beland in his Congressional office this morning.
“Providing effective services and assistance for Rhode Islanders is the most important responsibility I have,” continued Cicilline. “I am happy that we were able to secure Mr. Beland’s well-deserved honor, and I look forward to continuing to help families across our district in the months ahead.”
Cicilline's office provides constituent services for men and women throughout the First Congressional District. For more information regarding available services, constituents should call 729-5600.