LITTLE FALLS --World War II veteran Joseph L. Masog Sr. of Little Falls went from having no medals to a chest-full after a short Friday ceremony in the Morrison County Government Center.
The 84-year-old resident of the Lutheran Care Center was cited for heroism for his service on the U.S.S. Lexington during the Battle of Coral Sea in May of 1942. During that battle, gas vapors created an explosion and the Lexington eventually had to be abandoned. Masog, machinist mate first class, was credited with staying at his post despite darkness and the proximity of fire and smoke.
The medals he received Friday were: the Navy Good Conduct Medal, World War II Victory Medal, American Defense Service Medal and Fleet Bar, American Campaign Medal, Asiatic Pacific Campaign Medal, Honorable Service Lapel Pin, and Honorable Discharge Button.
A life member of American Legion Post 46 and VFW Post 1112, as well as the Disabled American Veterans, Masog was aware he qualified for various World War II medals but was never concerned about whatever bureaucratic snag had resulted in him not receiving them.
"I wasn't worried at all," he said Friday. The fact that others saw fit to do the necessary paperwork so he could receive them, he said, was very gratifying.
The bureaucratic battle began when Rick Masog, a grandson of the former Navy sailor, enlisted the help of Rep. Greg Blaine, R-Little Falls. It was a long process, he said, involving the shuffling of many forms and documents.
The elder Masog enlisted in the Navy in 1939, following in the footsteps of his brother. He worked in the engineering department of the U.S.S. Lexington.
While the sinking of his ship was one of his most vivid memories of World War II, war time was also when he met a Women's Army Corps member named Regina Posch, the woman he would marry.
Although both from the Little Falls area, they had never met until they were both temporarily home and away from their service duties. The young sailor married the WAC member on Sept. 15, 1943. They'll celebrate 60 years of marriage next week.
After the war, The Masogs returned to Little Falls, where he owned Masog Refrigeration from 1946 until his retirement in the 1980s.
On hand for the ceremony were his son, Joseph L. Jr. and his wife, Dorothy; three grandchildren, Rick Masog, his wife, Kari, Jackie Retka, her husband, Ken, and Joe Masog; and five great-grandchildren, Matthew, Nathan and Christy Masog and Nick and Erin Retka. Also at the ceremony were representatives of veterans organizations from Little Falls, Flensburg, Royalton and Randall.
Also taking part in the ceremony were Lt. Cmdr. Bruce Oisted of the U.S. Navy, Col. Richard Weaver of the Minnesota National Guard and Rep. Jim Rhodes, R-St. Louis Park, chair of the Governmental Operations and Veterans Affairs Policy Committee.
Commenting after the ceremony Blaine said it was important to demonstrate appreciation for the service of war veterans, particularly since the U.S. is asking young men and women to make similar sacrifices today.
"It's easy for us, when we're not on the battlefront, we're not dressed in fatigues, to take things for granted," Blaine said.
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