A Johnston man on Friday received military decorations, including a World War II victory medal during a ceremony marking the 70th anniversary of the D-Day invasion.
U.S. Sen. Jack Reed presented the medals to 87-year-old Louis Gautieri, Jr.
"A lot of these service members had seen so much. And they had seen the sacrifice and the loss of comrades, and the idea that they should get a medal. A lot of them, very humble, a sense of the loss and sacrifice, didn't push it. But now, frankly, it's good that we finally caught up with him and gave Lou his medal," Reed said.
Gautieri enlisted in the U.S. Navy when he was 18 years old.
"We were part of the war, we ended the war, we came back. All the medals say is well, they're medals. It means to me we can close World War II. Everything I had coming, I got," he said.
"Came home to nothing and made a life, raised a family and built two successful businesses. He owns a bunch of properties today. And he's 88 years old and he works every day," said Ron Renzi, Gautieri's nephew.
While Gautieri was proud to be honored, he said his battles in the Pacific are still uncomfortable to talk about.
"I don't, I really don't want to get into that. The war, I put it aside. I don't even want to think about it really. It's over with. Sixty-seven years," he said.
"They lost a lot of friends and family members and that's pain you bury and you don't want to re-live, and he does tell me that. There's some things he doesn't want to bring up, you know. But he's just a good man. He really is," Renzi said.
Said Gautieri: "Today is the most important day. What we do today influences what we do tomorrow. And that's it."
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