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Central New York veterans receive long-overdue medals

Ellen Abbott
Rep. John Katko pins medal on World War II veteran Anthony Tangretti of Syracuse

The wars may have been decades ago, but Central New Yorkers who served in the Vietnam War and World War II got some long-awaited recognition this month.
For decades, Gary Janis of Auburn didn’t talk about his tour of duty in Vietnam.  But, he says in the last five or six years, he’s been able to open up about the experience. Janis was part of a five- or six-man group that would gather information from behind enemy lines.
"We would be dropped off by helicopter, infiltrate in, get our information," Janis said. Hopefully, we wouldn’t be compromised. If we were, the choppers were there to pull us out. And we’d call in for extraction when we were done and they’d come in and get us.”
So recently, while looking through some medial records, he found paperwork required for a medal that was never filed. Janis started the process of getting a medal through Congressman John Katko’s office, which started the necessary congressional investigation.
“It took him kind of making a stink about it himself to our office for us to look into it to make it happen," said Katko, who presented the medals. "That’s crazy. That shouldn’t be the way it should be. The military should take care of its own.  I mean it shouldn’t take this fellow, who’s now 70 years old, to be recognized for something he did in the '60s. That’s nuts.”
Also getting an overdue medal was World War II veteran Anthony Tangretti of Syracuse, who signed up to go to war when he was 16. Tangretti received his World War II Occupation of Japan Medal among other service awards.  For Janis, these awards are important and he’s glad his family was able to see them awarded. But, he says it’s also not just his day.
"I just think of all my teammates, guys who didn’t make it back," Tangretti said. "So, this is for them as well.”

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.