PLAISTOW — Roy Jeffrey went to Manchester yesterday to collect his Good Conduct Medal.
Jeffrey, 90, a World War II veteran, waited more than 65 years to be recognized for his “honorable and faithful” service, which the medal denotes.
New Hampshire veterans and folks around Plaistow would never describe Jeffrey as less than honorable and faithful.
He is the 2013 New Hampshire Legionnaire of the Year.
But as Jeffrey will candidly tell you, he came up a little short on the calendar, technically, to qualify for the Good Conduct Medal — about 48 hours short.
“I only served two years, 11 months and 28 days,” Jeffrey said.
But he contacted U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., to see if something could be done.
It could. Yesterday, he received the medal.
“I was in the Marines,” Jeffrey recalled yesterday before going to Manchester for the presentation ceremony. “I was a pharmacist mate, a medical tech. I landed with the Marines at Okinawa, April 1, 1945, for one of the roughest battles of the Pacific.”
It would leave a lasting impression on a young man from New Hampshire.
“In World War II, we knew who the enemy was and why we were there,” Jeffrey said. “But it was still a bloody mess.”
He remembers going ashore.
“I went down over the side of the ship on a rope ladder,” he said. “I had a carbine over my shoulder and a backpack.”
It would test his courage.
“I was a scared 19-year old, just a naive little boy from New Hampshire,” Jeffrey said. “It was kind of earthshaking.”
But something — really a special someone — helped sustain him through the Pacific battleground.
“My wife, Carolyn — she was not my wife then — wrote to me every night,” he said. “I didn’t write to her every night, but I wrote to her as often as I could.”