Tom Hitner celebrated his 100th birthday this week when Congressman Jeff Denham pinned service medals on his shirt replacing medals stolen from his South Powers Avenue home 10 years ago.
Among those medals were three battle ribbons he received for action in combat in Japan, the Philippines and Australian theaters.
Denham was accompanied by four staff members who arrived at the Commons at Union Ranch retirement home on Tuesday where Hitner is now living and was about to celebrate with a birthday cake. A small crowd of veterans and other residents of the home watched as the Congressman and his aide Paul Butler read Hinter’s accomplishments aloud.
Serving as a member of the 77th Division, Hitner recalled three days when men and equipment were taken ashore in Okito, Japan. Then they trekked some 350 miles to the south of Tokyo.
Hitner remembered another much smaller campaign that was on the East Coast of the U.S. when soldiers were looking for available yachts to press into service in the military. He said they went into Massachusetts and took the “rich people’s” boats away from them.
Hitner noted that he was a good shot with the Army’s M-1 rifle – saying that it was a good well-made gun.
His medals had been kept in his home safe along with a gun and important papers when thieves broke through his glass slider and took the entire safe out of his Manteca residence.
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