After 60 years, an Ogdensburg veteran is getting the recognition he deserves. Due to a paperwork error, Charles Lake never received the Bronze Star he earned during his service in Korea. Barry Wygel tells us how, with the help of the community, he finally will receive his medal.
OGDENSBURG, N.Y. -- Charles Lake's 60 year fight is over.
"I had paperwork, a letter from the general of my division, that I was going to have it. But when I got wounded, it never followed me up," said Charles Lake, a Korean War veteran.
The Ogdensburg native earned the Bronze Star while he was in Korea. But after spending nine months in the hospital after an injury, the Army had lost his paperwork.
"I couldn't get it, they kept denying me. They didn't have any paperwork on it, it wasn't on my Army paper, so I just said 'forget it'," said Lake.
Even after Lake had given up, his friends family and community members kept the fight going.
His daughter wanted to put together a glass case of all his Army medals, but they were one short. After his daughter passed away, Lake decided he didn't want to give up, but finish the case for his daughter.
"He contacted us in June of last year, indicating that he was having difficulty securing the medal that he believed he was entitled to," said Congressman Bill Owens, (D) NY-23.
"It was only about six months and then I had the news," said Lake.
Congressman Owens' acted as a liaison between Lake and the Army and found the evidence that the Army was looking for.
"We were able to move the Army to awarding him the medal," said Owens.
"It was as good of a Christmas present as I ever got. I was thinking of my daughter right away, she would be happy," said Lake.
Lake says this battle hasn't been about him, he knew this was what his daughter would have wanted.
"If my daughter didn't want to do it, I never would've finished it," admitted Lake.
Lake's story has been well-documented, but he remains modest to this day.
"A lot of people, when I had stories in the paper, people would see it and say 'well, you're quite a hero.' No, I always told them, no. I'm just a survivor, the heroes don't come back," said Lake.
Lake will be given the medal in a ceremony planned for next month.