TEWKSBURY, Mass. (MyFoxBoston.com) -- A World War II veteran from Tewksbury received some very special surprise recognition for his service Saturday.
Dick Holland Sr. never received the medals he earned while serving as a torpedo bomber pilot in the South Pacific.
"We were anxious to get home," Holland told FOX 25. " We'd been there almost 2 1/2 years, we were anxious to get home. We were happy it was over."
The lieutenant commander in the Navy Reserve was so happy that he never got his medals. He went on to marry his sweetheart and raise a family. Thanks to his children and grandchildren, the 91-year-old finally received his awards.
Inside his home Saturday, Holland received the American Campaign medal, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign medal, and the Philippine Liberation Medal, along with a special proclamation from the state House of Representatives and a certificate of appreciation from the Navy.
Holland joked that his children ought to be ashamed of themselves for coordinating such a wonderful surprise. He said he is the luckiest guy around.
"It was a dirty trick," Holland said of the surprise. "They didn't tell me anything about it. I didn't even know those medals were around."
The 91-year-old's grandson, Commander Michael Holland of the U.S. Navy, explained why the family decided to put together the event.
"All the inspiration he's given us over the years, the stories, and it's his right, it's what he deserves," said Michael.
Dick inspired a legacy of service in the Holland family. His son was a Marine in Vietnam, his granddaughter is a staff sergeant in the U.S. Army.
After his service in World War II, Dick was a Naval flight instructor based in Weymouth. Michael Holland said it was Dick's military and civilian career, as well as his commitment, courage, and greatness that inspired the family.