STRATFORD, Conn. -- Stratford's Ralph Roballey didn't join the Navy for the glory, but he received some long-overdue recognition for his service Wednesday when Sen. Richard Blumenthal presented him with three medals that he earned during his tour of duty.
Roballey, 77, served in the U.S. Navy as an Aircraft Electrician's Mate 2nd Class Petty Officer from 1957 to 1961. He was deployed to Beirut, Lebanon in 1958 during a time of political and civil unrest and violence. For his service, he earned the Navy Good Conduct Medal, the National Defense Medal and the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, but never actually received the medals.
He finally received his medals during a ceremony at the Mill River Country Club on Wednesday, surrounded by friends and family.
Roballey said he didn't know that he had earned the medals until he was contacted by the Navy, and never sought recognition for his time in the service.
"I never thought I did anything that would require the Navy to award me any medals," he said. However, following the ceremony he said," It's wonderful, I'm grateful."
"I was a young kid, and the Navy made a man out of me," he said. "I served with a lot of guys who were very gallant and professional."
"These medals are long overdue," Blumenthal said. "I’m pleased that my office and I played a part in making sure that they were properly awarded, but Ralph went a long time without even seeking them. He didn’t serve his nation for the medals, he served because he believes in this nation, the greatest, strongest nation in the history of the world and we owe veterans like Ralph not only their medals, but the thanks of a grateful nation. Gratitude not just in words, but in deeds."
Mayor John Harkins said that Veterans Day is an occasion to honor and thank those like Roballey who served their country.
"This gives us a time to reflect upon the freedoms we have and if not for our veterans we wouldn’t have these freedoms. So Ralph, thank you for your service, thank you for protecting us, for stepping up to the plate," Harkins said.
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