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90-year-old World War II Utah veteran receives medals in surprise ceremony

SHARE 90-year-old World War II Utah veteran receives medals in surprise ceremony
He’s a worker, he’s a giver, and I hope we got that from him. He’s not just all-around military. He’s a family man. – Jeanie Campbell, Gardiner’s daughter

PAYSON — World War II veteran Joseph Max Gardiner received a string of awards in a surprise ceremony Saturday.

Gardiner received four medals: the World War II Victory Medal, Good Conduct, Sharp Shooter and the American Service Medal.

"These medals were very hard to earn, and these are the ones you got if you go into combat overseas, which in those days was a tough thing to do," said Tim Matthews, commander of the Wasatch 1 Chapter of the Disabled American Veterans.

Gardiner, 90, started his service in North Africa and then went to Normandy and the Battle of the Bulge, finally returning home to Utah once the war came to an end.

Most people read about it in history books, but for a select few still alive today, only they can describe what it's like to be a World War II veteran.

"Those Germans, they came to us like (you) can't believe right after they blew that wall up in France," Gardiner said. "I try to forget about things. Once in a while I’ll dream, and I’ll wake up quick.”

Dozens of family members and friends filled the Central Utah Veterans Home to share their memories.

"He's a worker, he's a giver, and I hope we got that from him," said Jeanie Campbell, Gardiner’s daughter. “He's not just all-around military. He's a family man."

Gardiner said his focus now is on serving his loved ones.

"My life is really to take care of my children and the grandchildren right now," he said.

Email: hsmith@deseretnews.com