November 20, 2012

Udall Presents Medals to Navajo World War II Veteran

Albuquerque, N.M. - At a ceremony held at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center in Albuquerque today, U.S. Senator Tom Udall presented veteran Wilson Halona five medals of recognition for his service to the United States Army during World War II.

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"Wilson Halona's service is a wonderful example of heroism and duty," Udall said. "I'm honored to play a small role in recognizing that service for a grateful nation. Today he makes New Mexico as proud as he did during the fight for Utah beach."

More than 50 members of Halona's family attended the ceremony, which was led by Tommy Sandman, Veterans' Service Officer for the New Mexico Department of Veteran Services. The event was also attended by Secretary Arthur Allison of the New Mexico Indian Affairs Department, State Senator John Pinto and members of the Eldorado High School ROTC, who provided the color guard.

Halona, a native of Tohatchi, N.M., served in the European Theater of World War II from 1943 to 1945. In 1944, his Battalion destroyed German bunkers at Utah Beach and was later tasked with guarding Hitler's top generals in Stuttgart. This included one of the highest-ranking German generals, whom Halona personally guarded before returning to Nuremberg to celebrate the end of the war.

Though for many years he did not seek formal recognition, Halona's family contacted Sen. Udall's office for help this past October to verify his medal eligibility. Udall's office then worked with the appropriate federal agencies to secure the five accolades the senator presented to Halona on Tuesday.

The medals include:

  • The Good Conduct Medal, awarded to members of the U.S. military who completes three consecutive years of honorable andfaithful service;
  • The European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with Silver Service Star, intended to recognize military duty in the European Theater of World War II;
  • The World War II Victory Medal; awarded to any member of the U.S. military who served on active duty, or as a reservist, between December 7, 1941 and December 31, 1946;
  • The Honorable Service Lapel Button WWII: awarded to United States military service members who were discharged under honorable conditions during World War II; and
  • The Sharpshooter Badge with Rifle Bar: a marksmanship Qualification Badge issued by the U.S. Army.

Udall is a member of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs.