LONG BEACH, Calif. (KABC) -- Seventy years after he should have received it, Rikio Izumi was awarded the National Defense Service Medal for serving in the Coast Guard.
The award is given to every member of the U.S. Armed Forces who served during the Korean War, Vietnam War, Gulf War or Global War on Terrorism. But after the Korean War, Izumi somehow never received it.
"It was an amazing process and journey for all of us, and then to culminate that with being here at this ceremony and where he receives this medal after seven decades," said Lance Izumi, Rikio's son
It was recently presented to him at Coast Guard Base Los Angeles Long Beach, where Lance shared some of his father's heroic moments, like braving the ocean during a hurricane in Florida.
"Two children had washed out to sea and my father jumped into the ocean during hurricane winds, rough seas, terrible currents, and was able to swim out to them, grab them, hoist them up with his arms and swim backwards on his back to shore," he described.
The military changed Izumi's life, opening doors for an education, something he would have never had, growing up on a sugar cane plantation in Hawaii. That's why his son uses the story in his own career, recruiting for the Army.
"It worked for my father and I know it can work for so many other young people in our country," said Lance.
Now, he finally has his medal and his family is smiling with pride.
"His service just means the world to me, because my father means the world to me," said Lance.
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