A 103-year-old World War II veteran from Massachusetts has finally received the medals he earned for his service on the battlefield more than 75 years ago.
Peter Fantasia, of Somerville, was presented with the medals by U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton, a fellow veteran, at a special ceremony Monday in Reading.
“I'm proud he's my father and not someone else's,” Fantasia’s son said.
“We’re so blessed to have him," added Martha Mesiti, Fantasia's daughter. "He's just a blessing."
Fantasia served as a U.S. Army medic with the Lima Company, of the 3rd Battallion, of the 104th Regiment of the 26th Infantry Division.
He was captured while tending to wounded Americans in 1944 and held as a prisoner of war until he was liberated.
“There was a German pointing a gun at me…and they took me you know,” Fantasia recalled.
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Rep. Moulton called Fantasia a hero and said he represents the best of America.
“There are so many real heroes who have never gotten the medals they earned because they never sought them out. They didn’t come back and say, you know, ‘Hey, I think I deserve this medal,’” Moulton said. “Not just risking your life for your country but not seeking any recognition for it, that's the best of America represented right there in Peter Fantasia.”
"To us, he's dad. He's always put other people first," Mesiti said. "But to have other people realize how special he is, that's amazing."
Less than 490,000 of the 16 million Americans who served during World War II are still alive today.