Fairwinds – Ivey Ranch Resident Receives Military Medals

Fairwinds - Ivey Ranch Resident Receives Military Medals

It’s no secret that the resident at Fairwinds – Ivey Ranch are extraordinary. Every day we get to learn more about their life stories which enrich our lives and inspire us in ways we never imagined. One of our very own residents, George Coburn, was recently awarded military medals for his service in World War II, 75 years after his discharge. Learn more about George’s incredible story of service. 

Fairwinds – Ivey Ranch resident George Coburn, 99, has waited nearly 75 years for the military service medals he earned during World War II. More than 60 of our community residents came out to support George and show their gratitude for his service. Also in the audience was U.S. Representative Mike Levin who awarded George eight medals, a combat ribbon action, and two other commendations for his service from 1938 to 1946 in the U.S. Navy.

George’s service in World War II was harrowing, and he was involved in several significant battles in the Pacific Theater. Aboard the USS Oklahoma when Pearl Harbor was attacked on December 7, 1941, George escaped the sinking ship and spent the next five years on the heavy cruiser, the USS Louisville. The USS Louisville was involved in key battles throughout the Pacific, including the Battle of Okinawa where the cruiser was dive-bombed by a Japanese kamikaze pilot.

Following the war, George received a Purple Heart for injuries sustained during the Battle of Okinawa but paperwork for his other medals was never processed. George believes everyone was too busy celebrating the end of the war to focus on medals. He married his wife five days after he was discharged from the U.S. Navy in 1946 at the rank of Lieutenant Junior Grade. They went on to have two children and spend 60 years together before she passed in December 2005.

It was not until March 2019 when Linda Dudik noticed the oversight, a local World War II historian who discovered that Coburn never received his medals. The majority of the medals received by George were for his service in the Pacific from 1942 to 1946 and included the American Campaign Medal, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal, China Service Medal, Navy Occupation Service Medal with Asia clasp, and the World World II Victory Medal.

George has lived at Fairwinds – Ivey Ranch for two years and enjoys dancing and singing karaoke with his girlfriend and fellow resident, Nancy Belknap.

“George is one of the most respected residents, even among the younger generation, and is always willing to share his war stories and experiences with everyone.”- Kathi Keene, Program Supervisor

Nancy said that she has heard George reflect on his war experiences, saying, “I left as a boy and returned as a man.” He is a man of character and strength and has remarked, “I don’t go down to defeat and stay down.”

We join a grateful nation in giving our appreciation to George Coburn and other veterans for their service and sacrifice. Thank you, George, for all you have done for our country and for all you continue to do to make Fairwinds – Ivey Ranch an exceptional place to live! 

About the author

Alissa has been working in marketing and the senior living industry for over 7 years. She graduated from the University of Illinois with a B.S. in advertising and has worked all over the world as a freelance communications strategist and writer. Currently living in Okinawa, Japan, Alissa loves to travel, read, cook, and spend time with her two children and golden retriever.