2011-04-28 / Local & State

WWII Vet, 101, Gets Medals Replaced

By Phil Ray
ALTOONA MIRROR

HOLLIDAYSBURG, Pa. (AP) – Mike Cap, a 101-yearold World War II veteran, received many medals for his Army service in the Philippines but over the years he misplaced or lost them.

Cap was all smiles on Wednesday afternoon when U.S. Rep. Bill Shuster, R-9th District, journeyed to the Hollidaysburg Veterans Home and presented him with replacements of the medals he lost.

The ceremony brought tears to the eyes of Cap’s nephews, James Baker of Duquesne, and his twin brother Eugene, who were regaled with stories of their uncle as they grew up, and who expressed thanks for the replacement medals – and the care Cap is receiving at the home.

Family members knew Cap as “Uncle Skeezix,’’ James Baker said.

“He was always neat, and well-mannered, clean-cut,’’ said Baker in talking about Cap, an uncle on his mother’s side of the family.

And while Cap didn’t talk much about the war with his nephews, he and another uncle from his father’s side, both veterans, would talk about how tough those times were when they got together, Baker said.

“Thank you for your service in World War II. ... This country owes you a great debt,’’ Shuster said.

Cap was twice wounded including receiving shrapnel in his heart during the invasion of Leyte Island.

For his service he received a Purple Heart and a Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster commemorating his wounds, a Bronze Star, a World War II Victory Medal, an American Campaign Medal, the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with three Bronze Service Stars and arrowhead, the Phillippine Liberation Medal, a Combat Infantryman Badge, an Expert Infantryman Badge and an Honorable Service World War II lapel button.

William Bravin of Hollidaysburg, a high school track coach, brings his runners to the veterans home so they can meet the people in the home.

Bravin met Cap and the two became friends.

He organized the effort to replace Cap’s medals and put together Wednesday’s ceremony that included Cap’s family, a good friend of Cap’s from Duquesne, Stephen Conos, who is 90, and more than 20 members of the veterans’ home staff.

Cap received an ovation and flashed a big smile as he was handed a display of his medals.

His great nephew, Ken Baker, who just retired from the Army and who completed 20 years of service with a stint in Afghanistan, sat with Cap.

He is now attending college but he said that Wednesday was such a special day for him, he skipped classes and drove from the Pittsburgh area to be among those honoring Cap.

Cap, although in a wheelchair, was as his nephew James remembered him. His hair was freshly cut and brushed, and he wore a sparkling white shirt and tie.

When someone mentioned the Philippines, he brightened up and said he had good feelings about that nation.

Conos, his friend, began talking about how powerful a swimmer Cap was as a young man.

Cap used to jump into the Allegheny River every day and race the barges going toward McKeesport, Conos said.

Cap was also a boxer, a baseball player and enjoyed playing a musical instrument called the “sweet potato.’’

A lifelong bachelor, Cap was a steelworker who joined the Army at age 32 and ended his service as a staff sergeant in 1945 with the 77th Infantry Division.

He is the oldest resident to have lived at the Hollidaysburg Veterans Home.

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