Stolen war medals returned to WWII veteran's widow - My29 WFTC Minneapolis-St. Paul

Stolen war medals returned to WWII veteran's widow

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He fought for his country in WWII only to have his war medals stolen during a burglary -- but now, the Minnesota man's commendations are back in the right hands.

Roger Neis was the kind of guy history books are written about -- a veteran of both the Philippine and U.S. armies. He died in 2007, but a burglar broke into his widow's home nearly a year and a half ago and stole his combat medals. In doing so, the thief took more than a family's memories. He also took part of their souls.

"My dad meant everything to me," Nikki Neis told FOX 9 News, Roger's daughter.

Roger Neis was much more than a father. He was an American hero. As a private in the U.S. Army, he was stationed in the Philippines in 1942 when the Imperial Japanese Army invaded the islands, cutting off and starving the American and Philippine armies on the Bataan Peninsula to force their surrender.

The 60-mile march the troops made to a prisoner of war camp is now known as the Bataan Death March. Roger Neis barely survived.

"His legs were so badly beaten he would never wear shorts or anything in the summertime," Nikki Neis recalled. "He was so ashamed of his scars that he never wanted to show them."

After the war, the United States Army decorated Roger Neis for his valor and bravery during the death march -- but a burglar took those military honors in 2012. Once the culprit was caught and jailed, the medals were already gone. That is, until last month.

"The lawyer brought this case and these medals," Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said. "So, it's my absolute privilege and delight to give Nikki her father's medals."

Among the medals is a Bronze Star and two oak leaf clusters, which are among the Army's highest honors. Now, they are back in the hands of a family wanting to hold onto the memory of a man whose life and experience still lives on.

"I'm so proud of my dad and everything he accomplished in life," Nikki Neis said. "To have this to hand down to my son -- and also to teach my son and my children what people have had to go through to serve this country so they have the rights ... of American Citizens.

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