NEW VINEYARD — For their sacrifices to protect American freedoms, Francis Bliss of New Vineyard and his late wife, 2nd Lt. Frances Bliss, were recently presented with their World War II medals in a ceremony at the New Vineyard Public Library.
State Sen. Tom Saviello, R-Wilton, who gave Bliss his medals along with state Rep. Russell Black, R-Wilton, recalled how the presentation came about.
About a year ago, Francis’ son, David Bliss, called Saviello and told him that his father didn’t have his war medals.
Immediately, Saviello knew he had to do something.
“I just do it; I don’t go to Congress or anything,” he said. “It’s a personal thing for me.”
Saviello said that his dad was a Merchant Marine. However, he wasn’t recognized as a veteran for many years.
When Congress finally recognized Merchant Marines as veterans 30 years ago, Saviello’s dad called him, crying.
“He said, ‘I’m a veteran today,'” Saviello said. He added that if it hadn’t been for people like his dad, “we’d be writing in Japanese now, if we were allowed to write.
“I made a promise that day,” he said. “I promised I would find a way to say ‘Thank you.”’
Gov. Paul LePage and the Adjutant General of Maine signed certificates for the late 2nd Lt. Bliss. For his actions in World War II, Francis was presented with a World War II Victory Medal, an Asiatic Pacific Campaign Medal, a European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal and a European Campaign Medal.
After he received the medals, Bliss told a story of going back to France to visit in the 1990s. While he was there, he hit his head and had to go the hospital. At the hospital, he mentioned he had been in France in 1944, and that made him the center of attention.
“They were looking for someone who was actually there,” he said.
Bliss remembered that during the war, he was a translator between the French and American forces.
“I was the only one who could speak French,” he said. “I was constantly on call.”
His son, David, said he was glad his father had a chance to receive his medals while he was still alive.
“It’s great,” he said. “I’m surprised that he never picked them up.”