Medals conferred almost 80 years after late Concord Township hero served
BUTLER TWP — The late Roy Schubert didn't talk much about his service as a private first class in the 3rd Infantry Division, U.S. Army, on the island of Morotai during World War II.
When the Concord Township resident died in 1995, his family still knew little about the action he experienced on the Indonesian island, even as the flag from his military funeral was presented to them.
But when his widow, Helen Schubert, recently decided to request the wartime medals and pins her late husband had earned, the family learned that Schubert's efforts during combat must have been more impressive than they had imagined.
The Schubert family gathered at the office of U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly, R-16th, Friday afternoon to receive 11 awards earned by their family's hero during World War II, including two the old soldier never knew he was owed.
Chookie LaCamera, U.S. Army, retired, and veteran and military services representative for Kelly, explained that the National Personnel Record Center realized while researching Schubert's file that his combat service also made him eligible for the Bronze Star Medal and Combat Infantryman's Badge in addition to the host of other meals, pins and citations he earned.
LaCamera and Kelly said they were thrilled to present all 11 medals to Schubert's family in a ceremony before the American flag in Kelly's office.
LaCamera said the Bronze Star is one of the highest medals attainable for bravery during combat.
“For a private first class to earn that means he did something very brave, fought very hard and did one heck of a job,” LaCamera said. “When I made that first phone call to Mrs. Schubert, I was smiling the whole time.”
Kelly also was all smiles at the ceremony and reception at his office.
“This is such an honor,” Kelly said. “People forget the price that has already been paid by our veterans.”
Kelly gazed at the medals and pins earned by Schubert, which were neatly arranged on a table.
“This is somebody's life,” Kelly said. “If it wasn't for them, we wouldn't be here celebrating their service.”
LaCamera then asked Schubert's family to step forward.
Helen, 94, held the hand of her stepdaughter, Margie Schubert Rieger of Franklin Township, as LaCamera presented the pair with the Bronze Star and Combat Infantryman's Badge in a clear and solemn voice.
“I'm proud for him,” Helen said. “You feel so grateful for the country we have and the people who serve.”
She said that although the couple were married for 30 years and created a blended family together, her husband rarely talked about his service during the war.
“Until 1980 during a trip to Hawaii,” Helen recalled.
The couple were touring the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific at Punchbowl Crater in Honolulu when Schubert was moved to finally discuss his horrific experiences.
“He told me some things about the war,” Helen said. “There were some ugly things that happened.”
She wished her husband could have been there to accept his medals.