The United States Postal Service is marking Veterans Day with the issue of its new World War II Medal of Honor Forever stamps. Of the more than 16 million Americans who served in the armed forces during that conflict, only 464 were awarded the medal and almost half of those received the honor posthumously.
When the USPS announced they project, they decided to include images of all twelve surviving recipients on the folio pictured above. Pictured above (clockwise from top left) are Charles H. Coolidge of Chattanooga, TN (video); Francis S. Currey of Selkirk, NY; Walter D. Ehlers of Buena Park, CA (video); John D. Hawk of Bremerton, WA (video); Daniel K. Inouye of Honolulu, HI; Robert D. Maxwell of Bend, OR (video); Vernon McGarity of Memphis, TN; Nicholas Oresko of Creskill, NJ (video); Wilburn K. Ross of Dupont, WA; and George T. Sakato of Denver, CO (video), all of whom served with the U.S. Army. Arthur J. Jackson of Boise, ID (video); and Hershel W. Williams of Ona, WV (video); served with the U.S. Marine Corps.
Sadly, Senator Daniel K. Inouye and Vernon McGarity died before the stamps could be issued, as did Nicholas Oresko, who died after the stamps were printed. John Hawk died only a week ago on Nov. 4. Their photographs are still included, as they remain among the last representatives of a remarkable group whose courage and devotion we honor with this issuance.
Sakato is also a retired postal worker and he recounted his experience near heavily defended Hill 617 near Biffontaine, France in October 1944. He recalled saying to himself, "What the hell? Why?" Sakato continued, "When he died, I got so mad, I cried and ran up that hill. I don't know where I got the energy to do that."
In his single assault, Sakato killed 12 and personally captured four enemy soldiers. His unit, inspired by his bravery, followed him to capture 34 prisoners. Sakato was recommended for the Medal of Honor but was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross (DSC). Fifty five years later, in 2000, his award was upgraded to the Medal of Honor.
"I didn't think I did the heroics credited to me. I was just mad out of my mind when I charged up the hill. I thought I might die, but I was going to die trying.To be part of this stamp dedication is humbling," said Sakato. "I share this honor with all the other brave men and women who sacrificed."
If you want to order First-Day-of-Issue Postmarks, follow these instructions:
Customers have 60 days to obtain the first-day-of-issue postmark by mail. They may purchase new stamps at local Post Offices, at usps.com/stamps or by calling 800-STAMP-24. They should affix the stamps to envelopes of their choice, address the envelopes to themselves or others and place them in larger envelopes addressed to:
Medal of Honor Stamps Special Cancellations PO Box 92282 Washington, DC 20090-2282
After applying the first-day-of-issue postmark, the Postal Service will return the envelopes through the mail. There is no charge for the postmark up to a quantity of 50. For more than 50, there is a 5-cent charge per postmark. All orders must be postmarked by Jan. 11, 2014.