WWII Vet Gets Bronze Star, Other Awards After 71 Years

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A World War II veteran born and raised in Lincoln finally gets the medals he didn't even know he had earned. Thanks to some digging from a family friend and Congressman Jeff Fortenberry, he's finally the decorated veteran he deserves to be.

Friends and family gathered in Congressman Jeff Fortenberry's office Monday to honor World War II vet Robert Cather.

Even at 90 years old, Cather says he remembers his days in combat like it was yesterday.

"I just pulled my gun off my shoulder and let him have it," said Cather.

That's how Cather describes just one of his experiences with Japanese soldiers during his time in the Army infantry. He was appointed to platoon scout at the age of 19 after an amphibious landing in New Guinea.

"We landed with a landing craft," Cather said. "A wave caught it and flipped it. We never saw our officer again. He got caught in the wave and disappeared.'

But that was just the beginning for Cather and his fellow soldiers.

"Our orders were to move through the beach and through a jungle," Cather said. "A Japanese soldier came down this worn trail and I shot him."

After 3 years of active military duty, it's those acts of heroism that earned Cather a Bronze Star, Fortenberry says, is long overdue.

"Frankly, this is one of the most rewarding things that I do in Congress is to acknowledge this generation's service and sacrifice," Fortenberry said. "They just did their duty and afterward they came home and began to raise families, start businesses, and create the wonderful community we have."

And that's exactly what Cather did. He started Cather and Sons Construction, ran that business for 50 years, and raised a family with his wife, Cecilia.

"I didn't feel like anybody owed me anything."

While he didn't come home from war expecting much, Cather says the eight new additions to his military jacket are a welcome surprise.

"I have a jacket that I can still fit into that's down in our basement, and has some ribbons on it, and I wondered if there were more.