New York – Congressman Bob Turner (NY-09) held a ceremony this past Friday evening to honor World War II veteran Arno Heller and present the Rego Park native with the Bronze Star Medal on behalf of the United States Army and a grateful nation.
The event, held at American Legion Post 1424 in Forest Hills, Queens, began with Post Commander, Tom Long, welcoming everyone and leading those in attendance in the Pledge of Allegiance.
Turner then took the podium to introduce Mr. Heller and read his biography. “Mr. Heller is a prime example of a man who puts country before self. As a private in the Army, he rose to the occasion, putting his life on the line to defend his adopted homeland and the principles it stands for,” Congressman Turner said.
Major Charles Jaquillard, of the Fort Hamilton Army Garrison in Brooklyn, NY, then read the history of the Bronze Star Medal and a proclamation put forth in honor of Mr. Heller by the United States Army, as Congressman Turner pinned the medal onto the 91 year old former sniper.
“It means so much I can hardly describe it. I am actually overwhelmed with the effort and the kindness and professionalism of Congressman Turner and his office,” Mr. Heller said. “I really appreciate the work of the Congressman and all of his staff. Everyone has been so kind, nice, friendly and helpful I am speechless. It’s very emotional because after all these years sometimes I lie awake at night and a lot of memories come back. No bad memories. It’s been a terrific experience. All the people at work come over and shake my hand and congratulate me. Every time I mention Representative Turner’s efforts and success and I am just very grateful.”
Commissioner Terrance Holliday of the New York City Mayor’s Office of Veterans’ Affairs read a letter on behalf of Mayor Bloomberg and presented Heller with the New York State Conspicuous Service Cross.
The event came to fruition after Heller received a mailer on veterans affairs from the Congressman’s office and contacted the office to help him prove his entitlement to service awards. The Congressman then sent inquiries to both the National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) and the Fort Knox – Awards and Decorations Branch. Congressman Turner’s office was able to verify Mr. Heller’s entitlement to a Bronze Star Medal for his meritorious achievement in the Rhineland Campaign of 1944.
“Private Heller joins an elite class of United States servicemen and women who exceed the call of duty to protect our nation and his or her fellow soldiers. Mr. Heller bravely defended his country and his brethren in arms, and today, our nation says thank you,” Turner said following the event.
Heller is being awarded the Bronze Star Medal for meritorious achievement while serving with Company K, 3rd Battalion, 39th Infantry Regiment, 9th Infantry Division, on January 31, 1944, in support of the Old Reliables’ Participation in the Rhineland campaign.
The Bronze Star is a U.S. Armed Forces individual military decoration and the fourth-highest award for bravery, heroism, or meritorious service. The Bronze Star is the 9th highest military award (including both combat and non-combat awards).
Congressman Bob Turner represents New York’s 9th Congressional district and serves on the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, and House Committee on Homeland Security.