Pfc. Edward Bedno, U.S. Army, sat in a wheelchair in front of more than 100 veterans on Friday morning, waiting to finally receive his Bronze Star Medal. He earned the honor 77 years ago. He didn’t mind waiting a few more minutes.
The Mundelein resident earned the medal, along with a Purple Heart, after being wounded in combat in Okinawa, Japan on May 20, 1945. Now, during a Veterans Day Ceremony at the Mundelein High School annex, he was finally going to have the Bronze Star pinned to his chest.
“He actually never received the medal itself,” said Nicholas Konz, President of the Lake County Veterans Assistance Commission and Service Officer for Mundelein American Legion Post 867. “This was well-deserved. It’s only given to those who have earned the utmost respect from their fellow soldiers.”
The Bronze Star Medal is the fourth highest-ranking award a service member can achieve. It is given to a soldier who distinguished himself by heroic or meritorious achievement or service in connection with military operations against an armed enemy.
After reading a written statement from Bedno about his experience in Okinawa, Konz explained the meaning of the Bronze Star Medal. He finished his introduction with a sharp command: “Veterans: ten-hut!”
As veterans stood at attention, Sgt. Major Jose Nazario, wearing his dress blues, leaned over Ed Bedno and gently pinned the Bronze Star onto his coat, covering the left side of his chest. Bedno smiled as the veterans applauded.
Vietnam-era veterans also received an honor during the program. They each were presented with a pin commemorating the 50th anniversary of Vietnam.
The program, which began with the National Anthem sung by the Mundelein High School Master Singers and Honors Concert Choir, included speeches by two veterans, and MHS senior Jackson Zerillo, a U.S. Navy enlistee who is scheduled to graduate in 2023.
After the program, the veterans, led by a VFW Honor Guard and the Mundelein High School drumline, paraded through the school where staff members lining the hallways met them with cheers. They finished the program by marching into the gymnasium where they were met by applause from the student body.