OLD TAPPAN, New Jersey (WABC/CNN) — A World War II veteran from New Jersey was presented with his service medals on Monday, more than 70 years after he served in the deadliest war in history.
Congressman Josh Gottheimer delivered the medals to 92-year-old Thomas Simpson Monday morning at the Sunrise of Old Tappan assisted living facility.
Rep. Gottheimer presented Simpson with the American Campaign Medal, the Asiatic Pacific Campaign Medal, the World War II Victory Medal, the Honorable Reserve Discharge Button, and the Ruptured Duck Honorable Service Lapel Pin.
Simpson was determined to get the medals after a question from one of his grandsons.
"He said 'papa, what did you do in the war?' I said 'I'll get my medals and I'll show you,'" Simpson said.
Simpson enlisted in the Navy at 17 years old.
He served as a Ship's Cook Third Class in the Asiatic-Pacific Theater.
"My skipper woke me up one morning at five o'clock and said 'can you make coffee?' I said 'yes sir.' He said 'you're the cook,'" Simpson said.
Rep. Gottheimer, who was instrumental in helping Simpson acquire his medals, he also presented Simpson with a flag Gottheimer had flown over the United States capital in his honor.
Following his military service, Simpson later served as River Vale's Chief of Police for 23 years.
Simpson is now retired and lives in nearby Old Tappan.
Fewer than 500,000 of the 16 million Americans who served in World War II are still alive today.