James. J. Medeiros Sr. came home from the Pacific campaign in World War II with shrapnel permanently embedded in his body. Now he has different and more visible emblems of his service. Medeiros, now 88, and recovering from a stroke, finally received his service medals from the battles he fought during the Pacific Campaign.
James. J. Medeiros Sr. came home from the Pacific campaign in World War II with shrapnel permanently embedded in his body.
Now he has different and more visible emblems of his service.
Medeiros, now 88, and recovering from a stroke, finally received his service medals from the battles he fought during the Pacific Campaign.
Whether Medeiros was too impatient to be mustered out of the service back in December of 1945 to wait for the medals he earned or he couldn’t afford to pay for them is little uncertain in Medeiros family lore, but family members were determined the family patriarch receive the honors he deserves.
So, after a two-and-a-half-year effort, compounded by a fire that destroyed some of his service records, Medeiros walked into the Ipswich VFW Hall last Friday evening amidst some 30 or so family members and a VFW honor guard that snapped to attention.
Post Commander William Drake, a retired U.S. Marine Corps major, stepped smartly forward and presented a seated Medeiros with a plaque full of medals including the American Campaign Medal, WWII Victory Medal and the Philippine Liberation Medal.
Medeiros smiled and waved and, finally, broke down in tears when presented with a bouquet of flowers sent from a family member who couldn’t attend the ceremony.
“Thank you,” said Medeiros. “I appreciate the thought that everyone has taken. I don’t know why they did this, but it was wonderful.”
Medeiros saw fierce action at the Battle of Leyte Island in the Philippines and in the liberation of the Philippines.
That whole thing with General Douglas McArthur keeping his pledge to return? It was staged. It took three tries to get the cameras and the lighting right, says Medeiros, who was there.
Medeiros also entered the cave of a Japanese general just after he committed suicide with a German luger. Medeiros kept the luger and the general’s sword. “Someone broke into the house several years ago and took the gun,” said his wife, Sara. “But we still have the holster and the sword.”
Medeiros also fought in the invasion of Okinowa.
Given the casualty figures — 15,584 total U.S. casualties at Leyte and 3,504 killed and 38,916 total U.S. casualties and 12,513 killed at Okinowa — it’s a wonder he survived.
Later, Medeiros was called back into the U.S. Air Force in 1951 to serve on a secret mission in Korea.
“He still can’t talk about it,” said Sara. “So no one knows what he did there.”
Medeiros, who now lives at the Ipswich Country Club, went on to have a family and own the successful “Pink Elephant” Chrysler-Jeep dealership on Route 114 in Peabody.
“He never talked about the war to anyone,” said Sara.
But he held memories of his wartime experiences and friends close, especially the ones who never made it home.
“I was cleaning out his desk when he sold the dealership,” said Sara. She found an envelope with pictures of dead U.S. soldiers piled up. “I put them back in the envelope and I never told him I found them,” she said.