Tester honors veterans decades after service - KPAX.com | Continuous News | Missoula & Western Montana

Tester honors veterans decades after service

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George Wright and Gerald Zelmer were honored on Tuesday (MTN News photo) George Wright and Gerald Zelmer were honored on Tuesday (MTN News photo)

BILLINGS - Two Montana veterans were honored Tuesday, decades after they served.

Sen. Jon Tester hosted a medal presentation ceremony at his Billings office for George Wright, a World War II veteran from Valley County, and Gerald Zelmer, a Vietnam veteran from Bismarck, N.D.

Tester has made a point of honoring veterans of past wars who were never properly honored immediately after their service. His office says he's given over a thousand medals to veterans.

Wright enlisted in the Army in 1943 and served in the Philippines and New Guinea, rising to a T5 rank before returning home to Montana.  He was awarded a Bronze Service Star, Good Conduct Medal – Army, American Campaign Medal with three bronze service stars, World War II Victory Medal, Philippine Liberation Ribbon with a bronze service star and an Honorable Service Lapel Pin.

 Zelmer served in the Vietnam war, working on helicopters as a pilot crew chief. He was awarded a Bronze Star for Meritorious Service, the Army Commendation Medal, a Vietnam Service medal with a silver star, an expert badge with auto rifle bar and a sharpshooter badge with a rifle bar.

"These are great men that serve our country and sacrifice every day and they are surrounded by great families that sacrifice while they are there,"  Tester said. "Then they came back and they help make this country great domestically. These are great, great people that I am put in a position to make sure that we set the record straight and they are given the commendations that they've earned."

Family and friends gathered with the two veterans to celebrate their service as their received their medals.

Tester has awarded hundreds of medals to veterans around the state since taking office.

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