Robert L. Carnes of Sun Lakes never received 22 medals he earned during World War II — until Sunday. After 60 years, the medals were awarded to the 80-yearold during a surprise ceremony in front of a crowd of friends and family at the Sun Lakes Country Club.
Carnes served from 1943 to 1945 as an infantryman in the 148th Infantry Regiment in the Philippines.
Lt. Col. Sandra Raynor, commander of the Army Reserve’s 301st Military Intelligence Battalion of Phoenix, presented Carnes with his medals, framed together with pictures taken during the war.
"It’s very labor intensive (to get past medals), and a lot give up," Raynor said. "It’s just a phenomenal act of love on the part of the family."
Carnes’ son and daughter spent eight months researching, writing letters and filling out forms after their father was unsuccessful in getting the medals himself.
"I knew I was entitled to some. I just wasn’t sure how many," said Carnes, a retired terminal manager for Eastern Airlines in Indiana. "I’m very much surprised how many I received and very fortunate to have a son and daughter that would do this for me."
The bulk of the work was done in Indiana by Robert Carnes’ son, Roger, who worked in secret with his sister, Elaine Soppe of Scottsdale.
"The biggest obstacle was my father never really talked about World War II, so I had to start from scratch," said Roger Carnes, 57, a chief financial officer for a steel company.
"I wanted to keep it as a surprise because I wasn’t certain I would obtain the medals and I didn’t want to get his expectations up," Roger Carnes said.
Among the 22 medals Robert Carnes received, the most prestigious is the Presidential Unit Citation, awarded to his regiment for its actions in the battle of Luzon.
Carnes also fought in the battle of Manila and battle of Bougainville.
Carnes also received a Bronze Star, an Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with three bronze battle stars and a Philippine Liberation Medal with two bronze battle stars and a bronze service arrowhead.
"Once I started the research effort, I started realizing what my father had done," Roger Carnes said. "It became very important to me he receive the awards and recognition he deserved."