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29 years later, USPS vet receives combat medal

Brad Albright, a tool and parts clerk at the Grand Rapids, MI, Vehicle Maintenance Facility, displays his Liberation of Kuwait medal and an accompanying certificate. He is flanked by Vehicle Maintenance Supervisor Marty Mieras Jr., left, and Gowen, MI, Postmaster Mike Poll, two fellow Army veterans who wear Stetson hats because they served in the Armored Cavalry.

A USPS employee who served in the military during Desert Storm recently received a medal of recognition that was 29 years overdue — thanks to his postal supervisor, who worked behind the scenes to ensure the oversight was corrected.

Brad Albright, a tool and parts clerk at the Grand Rapids, MI, Vehicle Maintenance Facility, was serving in the Army in the early 1990s when the nation went to war in the Persian Gulf. He volunteered to participate in Desert Storm with a different unit than the one to which he was assigned, and served throughout the January-April 1991 war.

Albright should have received a Liberation of Kuwait combat medal at the end of the conflict, but he was accidentally overlooked because he had changed units.

Flash forward to this year, when Albright — who joined the Postal Service in 2004 — was swapping war stories with Vehicle Maintenance Supervisor Marty Mieras Jr., a retired Army command sergeant major and fellow Desert Storm veteran.

When Albright mentioned that he never received his medal, Mieras decided to fix the mistake.

“As a leader, you take care of your folks. I knew exactly who to call,” Mieras said.

Without telling Albright, Mieras quietly went to work, contacting military officials, reviewing paperwork and taking the other steps necessary to get Albright the recognition he was due. After Mieras obtained permission to present the medal and an accompanying certificate to Albright, he decided to make it a surprise.

During a Veterans Day ceremony at the Grand Rapids Vehicle Maintenance Facility last month, Mieras — with help from Loretta Schmidt, the facility manager — sneaked Albright’s mother, sister and nephew into a back room.

At the end of the ceremony, Mieras sprang the surprise.

“Specialist Albright, front and center!” he called out.

As Albright’s family emerged from the back room, Mieras presented the medal with help from Gowen, MI, Postmaster Mike Poll, a retired Army command sergeant major who served with Mieras in the Armored Cavalry.

“I was shocked … just taken aback but moved that Marty took the time and effort in getting the medal and my family present,” Albright said.

The medal is now prominently displayed in Albright’s home next to other service mementos and the American flag.

Mieras is glad everything worked out.

“I was humbled and very excited to present the young man with the medal he earned,” he said. “It was an amazing opportunity for me to be retired from the Army and still take care of one of our soldiers.”

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