Eugene Diederich's family never knew he was honored with several medals for his service in World War II because they were stolen decades ago.
With the help of U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos, D-East Moline, and her office, those medals were replaced Saturday.
Mr. Diederich, an Army veteran who lived in Carbon Cliff, passed away last April at the age of 88, but his family gathered Saturday morning at Rep. Bustos' Rock Island office to accept his awards.
"I didn't know he had them. It's nice to know it," said his wife, Annette, 86, of Carbon Cliff. "I wish he'd have said something about it."
Mr. Diederich's family said he didn't talk much about the war or his involvement in it. Whenever anyone asked about it, he'd reply, "'I didn't do much,'" they said.
They knew he drove a truck with supplies to the front lines, said Kevin Diederich, of East Moline, one of the couple's two sons, but that was about it.
The couple's other son, Dan Diederich, of Moline, said their father told him his duffel bag -- which contained all of the belongings he had with him -- was stolen on his way back to the States. It wasn't until his family gathered his discharge papers so he could be buried in the Rock Island National Cemetery on Arsenal Island that they learned he had been awarded the medals.
Mr. Diederich's military records were included in those that were destroyed in a fire at the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis in the 1970s, "so it was lucky you had what you did," Rep. Bustos told the family.
The medals replaced Saturday included the Good Conduct Medal, European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with three bronze stars, World War II Victory Medal, Honorable Service Lapel Button for World War II, Marksman Badge and Carbine Bar and Rifle Bar.
"We've always been proud of dad," said the couple's daughter, Deborah Beauchamp, of East Moline. He might not have talked about his service, in part, because "dad wasn't a bragger."
"I think he just figured it was his job," Dan said.
Mrs. Diederich said she was in high school when she started dating Mr. Diederich. "I had two dates with him, and then he had to leave," she said.
He wrote letters to her often, she said, from countries including Belgium, France and Germany. "And I saved every one of 'em," she said, adding that she has a box filled with them.
When he returned after the war was over, Mrs. Diederich was out of high school. "We started dating and got married," she said.
"He was a good kisser," she said, laughing. "He was a real good guy."
Ms. Beauchamp said Saturday was "special," and she was happy to have her father's medals. Her mother will keep them for the time being, she said.
"Right where I can see them," Mrs. Diederich added.
The family said Mr. Diederich was one of 13 children in his famil, and one of five who served in World War II at the same time. The five made it safely back to the States, the family said, and now, only two are living.
"We have three veterans on our team," Rep. Bustos told the family. "So when it comes to people who have served, like your husband, your dad, we want to make sure that we do what we can to honor (them)."