Local Veteran Honored 20 Years Later

Earned medal for bravery during Operation Desert Storm

By Tonya LaFleur
|  Sunday, May 23, 2010  |  Updated 9:16 AM EDT
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Local Veteran Honored 20 Years Later

NBCWashington

Spc. Dan Kees awarded Air Medal Saturday for service during Operation Desert Storm.

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Wiping away tears, a local veteran finally hears words of appreciation for his brave service nearly two decades ago.

Spc. Dan Kees was awarded the Air Medal on Saturday during a special ceremony at the American Legion Hall in Manassas, Va. 

Kees actually earned the medal back in 1991. He was a door gunner in a helicopter during a combat mission in Operation Desert Storm.  

For some reason, decades went by without Kees getting official recognition by the U.S. Army.  But that didn’t bother him too much.

“I didn’t join the Army to get awards,” Kees said.

But the mistake did bother Kees’ friends who served with him in Iraq. One of them made it his mission to have the military make good on the honor. 

After nine months of phone calls and letters Kees’ friend, Joe Ortiz, along with Sen. Mark Warner made it happen.

"It's incredible -- something I didn't expect for 19 years,” Kees said. "It just happened that my best friend went above and beyond what most guys would do in the military to make this happen: It feels great. "
 

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