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Higgins presents family of WWII Army veteran Edward J. O'Donnell with military service medals

by jmaloni

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Wed, Aug 27th 2014 11:35 pm

WWII Army Staff Sgt. Edward Joseph O'Donnell passed away Nov. 30, 1960, but his service to his country will always be remembered.

His family reached out to Congressman Brian Higgins in an effort to receive military medals that he was entitled to through his service.

Edward's son, William O'Donnell, and three generations of O'Donnells were present for a small ceremony in Higgins office, where they accepted the medals on behalf of their patriarch.

"It is never too late to pay tribute to a veteran," Higgins said. "Staff Sgt. O'Donnell lived a life much too short, but his contributions to this great nation live on for generations to come. It has been our honor to work with the O'Donnell family to recognize Edward's nearly eight years of service in the U.S. Army."

Edward was born in Buffalo June 2, 1922, to Cornelius A. O'Donnell and Esther Mary Geising. He was baptized on June 18 at Blessed Trinity Church, attended Blessed Trinity Elementary School and then Bennett High School, where he graduated in 1940.

Edward was a talented baseball player and an all-around great athlete. In fact, he told his family Warren Spahn (from South Buffalo) was the only athlete to ever strike him out.

Edward enlisted into the United States Army Nov. 13, 1942, and was activated in August of 1943. He was assigned to the 734th Bombing Squadron. After receiving military training as a pilot and a radio mechanic, Edward was assigned to serve the Allied forces in the Pacific during World War II. On Dec. 14, 1944, he was stationed in New Caledonia, a small French island located east of Australia. He remained in the Pacific Theater until 1945.

After service both abroad and at home, Edward was honorably discharged June 28, 1950.

Prior to his discharge, on Feb. 9, 1949, at the age of 26, Edward married Erin Mary Morrison. They went on to have five children: William, Erin Mary, Margaret, Daniel and Maureen. Edward worked for the U.S. Postal Service as a postal clerk in the "Old Main" post office located in downtown Buffalo.

Edward passed away at the young age of 38.

For his honorable and committed service to this country, Higgins presented the family of Edward J. O'Donnell with the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal, Good Conduct Medal, Honorable Service Lapel Button WWII, American Campaign Medal and the World War II Victory Medal.

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