‘Worth the wait’

More than 65 years after Melvin Biggs completed his tour of duty with the U.S. Army during World War II, the Webster City native has received several medals for his military service. But it was worth the wait, he said.

Biggs, now 87, served from 1944 through 1946 and saw combat in Europe. Biggs and his family weren’t aware that he had earned the medals until they recently came across his honorable discharge papers.

“We were working on somethings through the VA and came across some of his old military papers,” said daughter Chris Moffitt. Moffitt, who lives in Arizona, has been spending the summer with her parents in Webster City.

“On his honorable discharge, it said he had been awarded three bronze star service medals from the battles he was in,” she said.

She asked her father if he knew he had received the medals, and he told her no. But Moffitt was determined to make sure he received the honors.

She began a two-pronged approach. She contacted Veterans Affairs and she also telephoned Sen. Charles Grassley’s office. She sent in a copy of the honorable discharge and Grassley’s office took it from there.

“Grassley’s office was sending us regular updates,” Moffitt said. She said the family was surprised to learn that Biggs was owed other medals in addition to the bronze star service medals.

“We had no idea what would be coming,” she said. “But Dad’s really humble and he thought if he got one, ‘everybody must have gotten them.'”

Representatives of Grassley’s office called to let the family know the medals were on the way. They arrived the next day.

Moffitt said she researched the significance and order in which the medals are worn so that a display case can be properly set up.

Biggs is lucky to have had the proof of the medals on his discharge papers, because a fire in 1973 in St. Louis destroyed many U.S. Army records from World War I and World War II from 1912 through 1959. Many Air Force records were also lost in the fire.

“Those complete records will never be reconstructed,” Moffitt said.

Biggs said he and his brothers and a brother-in-law were all deployed at the same time during World War II, he said.

“And we all made it home,” he added.

After the war, Biggs returned home to Webster City and worked for Beam and Franklin Manufacturing. He also married his sweetheart, Joann. The couple celebrated their 67th wedding anniversary this summer.

What was simply a notation on some military paperwork became a search that ended with a big reward for the whole family.

“This all ended up being more than we ever thought it would be. But I’m thankful to Sen. Grassley’s office. They were just awesome,” Moffitt said.