Stolen WWII medals replaced ... 50 years later | September 26, 2008 | Danville Express | |

Danville Express

Newsfront - September 26, 2008

Stolen WWII medals replaced ... 50 years later

Danville Vet gets awards after discussing theft with congressman

by Geoff Gillette

It wasn't the lawn of the White House, but you couldn't tell that by the pride shining in the eyes of the health care providers at the Danville Rehabilitation Center. Or in the bearing of 86-year-old William Krebs, disdaining a wheelchair to stand to receive service medals for his time spent in the Navy during World War II.

Navy officials came from Alameda to the rehabilitation center Sept. 17 to deliver new medals to replace those the former Petty Officer 1st Class received at the end of three years in the military.

In 1946, out of the military and married a year, Krebs was storing his Navy gear in his father-in-law's garage in San Francisco, including the medals he received after being discharged.

"They were in my seabag," he recalled. And someone stole them. My uniforms, my Navy blankets, someone took them."

Flash forward 62 years to Jan. 19 of this year. Krebs and his wife Jennie learned that U.S. Rep. Jerry McNerny would be attending a veterans' workshop to be held at the Vets Hall in Danville. "We got a chance to talk to him (McNerney) and told him about the stolen medals," Jennie said.

McNerney directed staff members to look into the process of replacing the medals. Krebs' service records were examined and it was determined that he was due several medals and citations.

Lt. Cmdr. Jim Molinari of the Navy Operations Support Center in Alameda came to Danville to present the awards personally.

"With events like this it's truly an honor to recognize our predecessors," he said.

Several staff members and patients crowded into a fitness gym at the rehabilitation facility to witness the ceremony. Krebs stood proudly as he was awarded several medals including:

* Army of Occupation Medal

* WWII Victory Medal

* Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal

* American Campaign Medal

* Combat Action Medal

In addition, he was given a combat ribbon and two lapel pins for Honorable Discharge and Honorable Service.

During his term of service, Krebs was a machinist on various landing craft. He said it was his job to make sure the landing craft ran smoothly and got where they needed to go. He said seeing those medals after more than half a century was amazing.

"It's great," he said. "A great surprise. I really didn't expect this."

Krebs and his wife both expressed gratitude to McNerney for expediting the replacement of the medals. A McNerney spokesman attended the ceremony for the congressman who is in Washington.