Seventy years after serving in World War II, U.S. Army veteran and Kenmore resident Carlton Small received the military medals he earned, including a Bronze Star, in a special presentation by Congressman Brian Higgins, Town of Tonawanda Supervisor Anthony Caruana, and Village of Kenmore Deputy Mayor Tim McCarthy.
"Private First Class Small bravely answered the call when his country needed him, and we, as a nation, are grateful for his commitment and selfless contributions," Higgins said. "It is truly our honor to present Mr. Small with the medals he earned as a lasting legacy of his dedicated service."
Born in Buffalo, Small, pictured, was drafted into the Army at the age of 20 and began his service Dec. 26, 1942. He was deployed to the South Pacific during World War II and involved in the Battle of Driniumor River from July 10 through Aug. 25, 1944. During this decisive battle to maintain control of western New Guinea, the 112th Cavalry Regiment lost more than 60 percent of its men due to casualties while conducting brave defensive and counteroffensive moves. PFC Small was honorably discharged Jan. 13, 1946.
Caruana said, "As evidenced by Mr. Carlton Small's exemplary and heroic military service, and his civilian life and work, he is a prime example of in Tom Brokaw's words, 'America's Greatest Generation.' "
"America has been blessed with men and women like Carlton who unselfishly sacrificed so much in World War II that others could remain free, and then returned home to build our homes and our nation into the world's greatest democracy," Caruana added. "It is an honor to be in his presence."
"I am honored, on behalf of the Board of Trustees and everyone in Kenmore, to proclaim April 14, 2014 'Carlton S. Small Day' in the Village of Kenmore," Mayor Patrick Mang said. "Mr. Small serves as a fine example of heroism, patriotism and service. I'm so happy to recognize his service to our nation during World War II."
In a letter requesting Higgins' assistance obtaining the medals, Small wrote, ""Like many veterans of my era, I returned home, went to work, raised a family, and put the war behind me the best I could. ... It is my desire to pass these items along to family members so that my military service is remembered."
Higgins' office reached out to the Army on Small's behalf and was able to secure the medals he earned, including the Bronze Star, which is awarded to members of the military distinguishing themselves by heroic service while engaged in an action against an armed enemy.
A certificate to Private Small from the Army awarding the Bronze Star reads: "For meritorious achievement in active ground combat against the enemy on 15 November 1944, while serving with Troop C, 112th Cavalry Regiment (Special), 1st Cavalry Division, in support of Allied operations to liberate the Philippines. Private Small's exemplary performance of duty in active ground combat was in keeping with the finest traditions of military service and reflects great credit upon himself, the 112th Cavalry Regiment (Special), 1st Cavalry Division and the Army of the United States."
In addition to the Bronze Star, Small received the American Theater Asiatic Pacific Campaign Medal with three bronze stars; Army Good Conduct Medal; American Campaign Medal; World War II Victory Medal; Army of Occupation Medal with Japan Clasp; Combat Infantryman Badge; Honorable Service Lapel Button-World War II; and the Philippine Liberation Ribbon with one Bronze Star.
Upon his return stateside, Small suffered a serious bout of malaria, contracted during his tour of duty. When he was able to return to work, Small began as an employee for the U.S. Postal Service, working at the historic post office building that is now home to Erie Community College. He later put his skills as a U.S. Army machinist to work at Ford Motor Co., Bell Aircraft and Sylvania before taking a job as a supervisor in the dormitory authority at the University at Buffalo, where he retired from in 1986.
Carlton and his late wife, Katherine, made their home in Buffalo where they raised two children, Allen and Marsha.