OAK RIDGE (WATE) – An East Tennessee World War II veteran was awarded for his service Monday, but what brought tears to his eyes was having his grandson, also a Bronze Star recipient, pin the medal on him.
Private First Class Melvin Kallio received the Bronze Star and several additional awards from Congressman Chuck Fleischmann at Brookdale Assisted Living Facility in Oak Ridge.
The Bronze Star is a United States decoration awarded to members of the United States Armed Forces for acts of heroism, meritorious achievement, or meritorious service in a combat zone.
“It’s just beyond imagination. I never thought anything like this would happen to me,” Kallio said. “So many people lost their lives and everything. I came back alive in one piece. I’ve been thankful for that.
Slideshow: Private First Class Melvin Kallio
He spent about three years in the Army, much of that time overseas.
“December of ’44 was the worst time for everybody. By May it was, we got over the radio it’s all over,” he said.
Nearly seven decades later, he was honored for his heroism during that time, particularly during the Battle of the Bulge.
“We do this for our veterans all across the third district, and it’s one of truly my great privileges as a United States congressman,” said Rep. Fleischmann.
Kallio and his are generations apart, but have so much in common.
“He’s been through a lot in Iraq. We understand each other,” he said.
His grandson said it was an honor for him to pin the medal on his grandfather.
“It means the world. I wanted to be able to give the recognition to those of the greatest generation but to be able to give him the Bronze Star, it means a lot,” he said.
It was a moment long overdue that Kallio says he is eternally grateful for.
“I’m just thankful for everybody putting so much effort into all this just for little old me,” Kallio laughed.
Kallio also received the Combat Infantry Badge and the Victory Medal.