Decades after his little brother Juan's death, Mamerto Sablan's face is beaming with pride as the Gold Star Lapel is pinned to his chest in his brother's honor.
“This is a great honor to receive this kind of medal,” said Mamerto. "I’m so happy and excited. I pray my brother up there is so happy and learned I received this for him."
On April 15, 1942, U.S. Army Private Juan Sablan was killed in action during the Japanese invasion of the Philippines during World War II.
Seventy-four years after that fateful day, Private Sablan's family receiving eight medals he earned, but never received.
Among them, the American Defense Service Medal with a Foreign Service Clasp, the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with one Bronze Service Star and the Presidential Unit Citation with two Bronze Oak Leaf Clusters.
“Not having those medals for so many years broke my heart, " said Juan’s younger brother Simon.
The Sablans finally received the long overdue medals thanks in part to a letter they wrote to Congressman Scott Peters back in March.
They read about Congressman Peters helping another veteran, Private First Class Donald Breitenberg, get the Bronze Star he deserved.
“I urge anyone in this situation to give us a call. It’s very rewarding to help a family like these folks,” Peters said, speaking about the Sablans.
“It’s important to have these medals to inspire those young men and women to look up and serve their country,” said Simon Sablan, referencing to his three-year-old grandson he taught to march in efforts he too will serve his country.
At this time it’s not known why it took so long for the Sablans to receive the medals.