90-year-old Army veteran receives long-deserved medals
March 31, 2010 at 5:05 p.m.
Updated March 31, 2010 at 11:01 p.m.
Albin "Tony" Pribyl credits taking a nap with saving his life during World War II.
He worked in front-line supply, making sure the troops got their rations.
"I was supposed to be in the supply tent, but I was asleep when a bomb hit the tent," he said. "My sergeant chewed me out for sleeping, but at least I was OK."
Pribyl, 90, was honored Wednesday as U.S. Rep. Ron Paul presented him with several medals he earned during World War II but never received.
"I'd been after them for a long time," Pribyl said. "They said all the records with the last name 'P' got burned up. So, I gave up."
But Bettye Pribyl, the wife of one of Pribyl's three nephews, didn't give up.
"Bettye's a go-getter," Pribyl said. "She got them. Without her, I wouldn't have them."
Even with assistance from Paul, it took about two years to verify and obtain Pribyl's medals.
Bettye Pribyl credits the veteran with keeping good records.
"He had his discharge papers and knew where he served and when," she said. "That helped a lot."
Pribyl's niece-in-law said it was important to her for Pribyl to get his medals.
"He deserves them," she said. "It's something we need to do, especially for our older veterans. We need to tell them how much we appreciate their service."
With more than a dozen family members and friends in attendance at a ceremony in Victoria, Paul presented Pribyl with the medals he earned more than 65 years ago.
"So many individuals throughout our history served well in the military. They go when they are called, do their duty and come home. A lot of times they were not recognized," Paul said.
"After World War II they were just glad to get home and not worried about commendations. So it's good to be able to do this and it's the proper thing to do, even though it's late, to say thank you," the congressman added.
Pribyl took part in the D-Day invasion at Normandy and was at the Battle of the Bulge, among other campaigns.
Paul, who has served the Victoria area in Congress since 1997, presented Pribyl with a shadow box with the medals mounted inside. He then read the list of about a dozen medals being presented, including the Bronze Star.
"That's a major achievement. I am pleased to be able to present these to Mr. Pribyl," Paul said. "It's a small token, but it's a thank you."
Asked if he wanted to give a speech, Pribyl quipped he didn't want to try to speak following the congressman. He then thanked Paul and everyone else for coming.
"I think I came out all right," he said.
Drafted into the Army in June 1942, Pribyl reached the rank of corporal until his discharge on the last day of 1945. He has been a member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars No. 4146 for 65 years.
Pribyl, who has had replacement surgeries on both knees, continues to work the family farm in DaCosta with his three nephews Billy, David and Gary Pribyl. He is married to Bertha Lobprise Pribyl.
Pribyl's granddaughter, Jamie Crenshaw, said it was important for her to attend Wednesday's ceremony.
"I am very proud," said the 29-year-old. "He's my grandpa."