Congressman Brad Wenstrup, left, pinned the Purple Heart, Bronze Star and World War II Service Medal on Lynchburg veteran Lt. Col. Harry V. Shoop, right. (HCP Photo/Stephen Forsha)
Congressman Brad Wenstrup, left, pinned the Purple Heart, Bronze Star and World War II Service Medal on Lynchburg veteran Lt. Col. Harry V. Shoop, right. (HCP Photo/Stephen Forsha)
Seventy-one years, eight months and 29 days. That’s how long Lynchburg veteran Harry Shoop has waited to be recognized for his service in World War II, after being honorably discharged from active duty on Nov. 9, 1945. After a ceremony seven decades in the making on Monday night, his wait is finally over, as Shoop was awarded the Purple Heart, Bronze Star and World War II Service Medal, just days before his 96th birthday.

On National Purple Heart Day, the Southern State Community College auditorium was packed with family, friends and members of the community who watched Shoop receive the medals, as well as numerous commendations from state and local officials, in a moving ceremony.

Congressman Brad Wenstrup, who presented the awards, thanked Shoop for his “patience.”

“You’re finally going to receive the awards for your service that have eluded you for 72 years. Thank you for your patience,” Wenstrup said.

US Army Major (Ret.) Kevin Barreras of the Highland County Veterans Service Commission presided over the event as the ceremonial marshal and opened the program with a biography of Shoop.

Shoop was born and raised in Mount Holly, N.J. and was the son of two local natives, Barreras said, as his father was from Washington Court House and his mother was from Sabina. Shoop’s mother passed away when he was 7, and his father disapproved of his son’s desire to join the military. As a teenager, Shoop hitchhiked to Washington Court House to live with family and join the Ohio National Guard.

Shoop entered active service in October 1940, serving in Ohio’s 37th and 38th Infantry Divisions. He was a platoon sergeant in Company B and Company H of the 149th Infantry Regiment in the Philippines during World War II, later serving in the 38th Infantry Division.

Following World War II, Shoop served in the Ohio National Guard and graduated from the US Army Command and General Staff in Fort Leavenworth, Kan. Shoop eventually earned the rank of lieutenant colonel and was commanding officer of the Ohio Guard 137th Military Police Battalion. He retired from the military after 31 years of active service.

Shoop also worked as a civilian employee at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, starting after World War II and retiring at the age of 72. While at Wright-Patterson, he was the lieutenant commander of the Fairborn, Ohio Police Reserves.

Shoop is also a charter member of the Medway, Ohio VFW Post 9684 and a member of the Hillsboro VFW Post 9094. Shoop was named Ohio’s Outstanding Disabled Veteran in 2009. He is an active member of the Disabled American Veterans Lloyd C. Ludwick Chapter 123 in Hillsboro.

“He is one of those rare humble individuals who has never met a stranger and can spark a conversation with genuine interest and care,” Barreras said.

Shoop has been a guest speaker at numerous schools, including Peebles and West Union’s high schools and his great-grandson’s elementary school in Ramsey, Ind., as well as at many Memorial Day and Veterans Day events. Barreras said that Shoop has finished a 100-page compilation of photos, press releases, casualty statistics and personal experiences of World War II and has a website with photos and videos describing his experiences at

Shoop’s numerous military achievements include serving as commanding officer of the Ohio Natural Guard’s 137th Military Police Battalion; participating as a life member of the Combat Infantrymen’s Association; graduating from the Provost Marshal Military Police School; and serving 198 days in combat in World War II in the Philippines.

Barreras thanked Shoop’s daughters, Elaine Bouslog and Patty Kendrick, for their work to “track down old military records” and correct Shoop’s paperwork in order to make the ceremony a reality. He also thanked the Highland County Veterans Service office for their help organizing the ceremony.

Along with his daughters, Shoop had many relatives and friends in attendance for the ceremony. His granddaughter, Jennah Sieg, performed the national anthem after the presentation of colors by the Highland County Veterans Honor Guard. Shoop’s great-grandchildren led the crowd in the pledge of allegiance, while his son-in-law, Hobert Kendrick, provided the invocation.

The special guest speaker for the event US Army/Army National Guard Brigadier General Gordon Ellis, Deputy Commanding General, Sustainment, 38th Infantry Division. Ellis is currently serving in the same division in which Shoop served and said that soldiers like Shoop “built the heritage” of the 38th Infantry Division.

“When I think back about the service, the dedication, the honor, the commitment to country, the love of citizenry above self-love, I think of Harry,” Ellis said. “His service and the service of so many others like him exemplify the 38th Infantry Division, and furthermore, Ohio National Guard, Indiana National Guard, the United States Army and all those that have served so proudly for so many years.”

Ellis told Shoop that members of the 38th Infantry Division are now serving in Afghanistan and Kosovo “and are completing operations in four different areas assigned around the world.”

“The foundation of service was laid by men like you, and we can never thank you enough for what you’ve done,” Ellis said. “You’ve set such a high standard that it’s easy for me to talk about service and commitment to our young soldiers because in the 38th, we remember our history.

“We remember those who have gone before us, and we never forget that we are standing on the shoulders of giants. In other words, Harry, we’re standing on the shoulders of soldiers like you. Thanks doesn’t seem like quite enough, but we honor your service by continuing to serve, and we will never forget what previous members and those who have gone before us have done for the 38th Infantry Division.”

Ellis presented Shoop with the 38th Infantry Division Coin of Excellence, saying, “I think you’ve earned it.”

Congressman Wenstrup, who is also a colonel in the US Army Reserve and an Iraq War veteran, presented the military awards to Shoop following the address by Ellis.

“It’s most appropriate that we’re here today on National Purple Heart Day,” Wenstrup said. “It’s a day when we honor those brave men and women who have lost their lives in the line of service to our country and those who were injured while defending our freedoms.”

Wenstrup said that Shoop entered active duty on Oct. 20, 1940 and saw 198 consecutive days of combat in the Philippines, where he was injured on Feb. 8, 1945. According to the program, Shoop was “attempting to assist one of his men who had been shot. About the time he realized the soldier was dead, something blew the sights off his rifle, as well as hit the middle knuckle of the little finger of his right hand.” However, Shoop returned to combat action instead of seeking medical attention.

“He wrapped his hand and continued to fight, and fight, and fight,” Wenstrup said. “He was eventually hospitalized. His wound became infected, and he contracted hepatitis A. Harry spent six weeks in the 80th General Hospital in Manila. He was honorably discharged on November 9, 1945.”

Wenstrup quoted President Ronald Reagan’s speech on the 40th anniversary of D-Day to describe Shoop: “These are the champions who helped free a continent. These are the heroes who helped end a war. Gentlemen, I look at you and I think of the words of Stephen Spender's poem. You are men who in your ‘lives fought for life . . . and left the vivid air signed with your honor.’’’

After reading the individual certificates for each award, Wenstrup pinned the Purple Heart, Bronze Star and World War II Victory Medal on Shoop, with Shoop receiving a standing ovation with each separate award.

“Lieutenant Colonel Harry Shoop, your military records have been corrected by the United States Department of the Army, the Army Review Boards Agency, to show your entitlement to the Purple Heart award, the Bronze Star award and the World War II Victory Medal,” Wenstrup said. “It’s my distinct honor to present these awards to you.”

Wenstrup also presented Shoop with an American flag that flew over the United States Capitol in Shoop’s honor.

After receiving his three military awards, Shoop also received numerous proclamations from local and state officials. Senator Bob Peterson was the first to speak, presenting a resolution from the Ohio Senate. However, Peterson said that he didn’t want to read the resolution, but instead wanted to comment on Shoop and his legacy.

“I, and I think all of us here, are going to be moved to live a life of service, to live a life worth living,” Peterson said. “I’m inspired to do more for my country, to make this world a better place, because of your inspiration. I challenge everybody else in this audience to do what you can to make this world a better place.”

Colonel Chip Tansill, director of the Ohio Department of Veterans Services, read a proclamation on behalf of Governor John Kasich and Lieutenant Governor Mary Taylor. In the proclamation, Kasich and Taylor said that they “recognize Harry Shoop throughout Ohio and encourage all Ohioans to join us in honoring him.”

Jeff Duncan presented a resolution on behalf of the Highland County Commissioners. The commissioners, Shane Wilkin, Terry Britton and Duncan, proclaimed Aug. 7 as “Harry V. Shoop Day in recognition of the lifetime of service and dedication he has given.”

Evan Webb, legislative aide to Ohio Speaker Cliff Rosenberger, presented a resolution on behalf of the Ohio House of Representatives, as well as relaying the speaker’s congratulations. Robert Braggs, community outreach representative for Senator Rob Portman, also read a letter from Portman thanking Shoop for his service, telling him “our nation is forever indebted.”

Fittingly, however, the final speaker of the night was Shoop himself. After receiving a long ovation, Shoop himself applauded the large crowd for their support.

“I’m grateful I’m surrounded by great people,” Shoop said.

Shoop told a story about one experience in the Philippines “that I wake up now and then still thinking about,” when two majors approached him and gave him an order to take a prisoner of war for the first and only time.

“They said, ‘Don’t you see all those long drifting boats out there about a half a mile out in the water?’” Shoop said. “I said, ‘I don’t know what they are, Major. We just got here.’ He was sort of a snotty guy. He said ‘Sergeant, I’ll tell you what they are. They’re loaded with Japanese soldiers escaping from Manila.’

“He said, ‘Sergeant’ – He was hung up on that ‘sergeant’ stuff – ‘I’m giving you a direct order. I want you to take a squad of men and go out there and bring me back a prisoner.’”

Shoop said he was reluctant to go because he wasn’t a good swimmer, but he was assured that the water wasn’t deep. He said that he “had to comply” because it “was about as direct an order as you could get.” Along with several of his men, Shoop also took the major’s interpreter, a Japanese-American soldier.

“I said, ‘Is that your interpreter?’ and he said ‘yes.’ I said, ‘I’d like him to go with me.’ [The major] didn’t like that too well,” Shoop said.

Shoop and his fellow soldiers trudged well over half a mile into the water before reaching the boats. After firing at the Japanese soldiers, the interpreter found someone who said he wanted to surrender, and Shoop and his men brought the man back to shore.

“The two majors never said thank you or nothing, they just drove off,” Shoop said. “I just always think about that. That was about the only prisoner I ever took.”

Shoop said that he and his fellow soldiers suffered from fevers and malaria while serving in the hot climate and rough elements.

“I want you to know how dedicated and capable US soldiers were under adverse conditions,” Shoop said.

Shoop also told a story about how he learned about the end of World War II.

“A field artillery guy came down to see me,” Shoop said. “I was telling this lieutenant where we were going to go in the next couple days and where we wanted the concentration over there, the artillery to sort of smoke that area out.

“While we were talking, a voice came over his radio that said that Armed Forces Radio had just picked up a message that the United States has just dropped a big bomb on Japan and the war may end very soon. That’s where I heard it, on a field artillery radio.”

Although Shoop said that he only suffered “minor injuries” in the war, he has lived with the effects of suffering from hepatitis A for decades. While he was in the hospital in Manila, his doctor told Shoop that he would recover but would never be able to drink alcohol and might not be fully healthy for several years. Shoop recovered well enough to get discharged early and was able to leave with most of his unit, he said.

“The boat was already loaded, but I got over there in time to get on a transport where most of the unit I’d been in was on the ship,” Shoop said. “That’s how I left Luzon in 1945. I was lucky to get out with my life.

“I was thankful to be out of the war and able to walk and talk. And if I make August 17th, my birthday, I’ll be four years from 100 years old. I’m very thankful that I’m here.”

The crowd sang “Happy Birthday” to Shoop in honor of his upcoming 96th birthday. Before presenting his two daughters with roses, Shoop thanked local veterans organizations; his daughters, son-in-law and family; all of the speakers at the ceremony and those who helped organize it; and everyone who attended.

Shoop concluded by thanking the country that he loves and has spent his entire life serving.

“I give thanks, in my humble way, to the United States of America and the people in it because you are the people that are America. I’m proud of each and every one of you, and I’m proud of the ones I’ve known in the past,” Shoop said. “The United States of America will always come first.”