British high award issued to Kansas man killed in WWII

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The British Distinguished Conduct Medal was awarded posthumously to the family of an Augusta, Kansas man killed in World War II.

Sgt. Sus J. Gonzalez is credited with saving lives of British military men in Europe during WWII in the fall of 1944. The U.S. 82nd Airborne Division reports that Gonzalez was granted the Distinguished Conduct Medal and in January of 1945 while in the hospital recovering from a war-related injury he received it. Gonzalez died the next day and the award somehow fell off the record.

On Veterans Day 2017, military men from both the United States armed forces and the British military met in Augusta, Kansas to serve the family of Gonzalez the award he rightfully should have.

“We got here a replica of the Distinguished Conduct Medal which we are going to recognize Sgt. Gonzalez contribution,” said British Military Brigadier Ollie Kingsbury.

According to the U.S. 82nd Airborne Division, the Distinguished Conduct Medal is the highest award any non-British person can receive. 

“It was presented on this occasion very rarely to an American soldier who displayed enormous gallantry during Operation Market Garden in Nijmegen, saving the lives of a number of British soldiers,” Kingsbury said. 

In a small box, the silver medal with the Queen of England’s image is stamped, a quick note reading “By appointment to her majesty, Queen Elizabeth II., Medallists, Worcestershire Medal Service LTD, Bromsgrave”

Gonzalez sister, 93-year-old Esther Mayes, says her family had no idea that Gonzalez had received this award until recently.

“Proud, very proud,” Mayes said.

“He will be in the British archives, always be remembered,” she said of her brother.

The family plans to donate the medal to a military museum in North Carolina. 

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