Widow finally gets soldier's medals
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The widow of Staff Sgt. Richard R. Bourg Sr. has received his war medals, nearly 63 years after his discharge from the U.S. Army.
Virginia Bourg, of Bridgeville, received six medals, including the Bronze Star for bravery. The couple's three children and six of their seven grandchildren were with her Aug. 1 as she accepted the medals from U.S. Rep. Tim Murphy, R-Upper St. Clair.
Mr. Bourg served in the Army infantry 1943-1946 in the Pacific theater during World War II. He was stationed in Japan, Mrs. Bourg said. He died in November 2003 after a stroke. He was 77.
Late last spring, the couple's son, Richard Bourg Jr. of Greensburg, asked to see his father's military discharge papers.
"My son said, 'Why didn't you tell me Dad had the Bronze Star for bravery?' I told him I lived with this man for almost 54 years, and I didn't know. He didn't talk about the war," Mrs. Bourg said, "and I guess he never picked up the medals."
Since Mr. Bourg didn't talk about the war, the family doesn't know what he did to earn the medal. "His discharge papers say he took care of 12 people."
The Bronze Star is a U.S. armed forces individual military decoration awarded for "heroic or meritorious achievement or service," according to the Pentagon Web site. When awarded for bravery, it is the fourth-highest combat award of the U.S. armed forces, according to Wikipedia.
The Bourg family contacted Rep. Murphy around Easter, Mrs. Bourg said, and he said he would look into it. When he presented a box of medals to the family, "we were so touched and so proud."
The other awards included the Good Conduct medal, Asiatic Pacific Campaign, Army of Occupation and the U.S. Military Service honorable discharge lapel pin that is nicknamed The Ruptured Duck.
Other family members who attended were daughters Heidi Biondi and Laurie Ahrenholtz, both of Bridgeville.
The one grandchild who couldn't attend, Allison Bourg, who writes for the Baltimore Gazette, wrote a tribute to her grandfather, which ended with: "How could we not know that Grandpap was a war hero?"
Mr. Bourg grew up in Cuddy and dropped out of South Fayette High School to enlist in the Army and fight in World War II.
The couple met in 1947, when they both worked at a pipe plant in Preston -- she in the office, he in the plant.
"He would walk by and wink at me with those gorgeous blue eyes of his," Mrs. Bourg said.
They married in 1950, living for two years in Cuddy before moving to Bridgeville, where they raised their family. Mr. Bourg was a welder by trade.
The couple and the rest of their family shared a special experience in 2002.
Their daughter Heidi Biondi had heard that veterans could receive their high school diplomas, and she made all of the right contacts.
So on a beautiful May evening, Mr. Bourg and three other veterans walked in caps and gowns to receive their South Fayette High School diplomas with other graduates of a more traditional graduating age.
"They received a standing ovation," Mrs. Bourg recalled fondly. "That was touching, too, like the Saturday when we got the medals."
First Published August 20, 2009 5:36 am