Local News

Clayton veteran receives decades-overdue bronze star

Posted May 30, 2011 4:51 p.m. EDT
Updated May 30, 2011 7:41 p.m. EDT

— More than 60 years after serving his country in World War II, a Clayton man received a combat award this Memorial Day in a special ceremony attended by three generations of his family.

The United States Army on Monday awarded a bronze star to Joseph Shaughnessy, 97, in recognition of his “meritorious service” in the Philippines. He also received new medals for awards he received six decades ago but has lost over the years.

Shaughnessy said he's proud of the honors but feels undeserving.

"I don't think I deserve anything for following the guy in front of me," he said. "Individually, I don't understand how I got this recognition, but I'm enjoying it."

He was belatedly honored thanks to the Veteran's Legacy Foundation, a Moore County nonprofit that helps veterans and their families apply for military awards that were earned but never received.

For Shaughnessy's family, being able to gather around the veteran on Memorial Day is a special way to celebrate.

"Having the whole family here together is unbelievable," said granddaughter Deborah O'Neill.

O'Neill said her grandfather is very humble and has never shared his war experiences with the family.

"For us to be able to find out what he's done for our country is amazing, and it's an honor," she said.

She said the family is grateful to have a physical reminder of Shaughnessy's heroic legacy that they can pass down to future generations.