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Korean War photographer gets surprise medal from Army just in time for Veterans Day

Treasure Island's Russ Scannell is in hospice care
Posted at 3:51 AM, Nov 12, 2018
and last updated 2018-11-12 06:56:45-05

TREASURE ISLAND, Fla. — William “Russ” Scannell received a very special surprise from the U.S. Army just in time for Veterans Day.

Scannell was a photographer for the U.S. Army in the 1950s.

The 90-year-old Korean War veteran lives with his wife Yvonne in Treasure Island. He is in hospice care now.

He perked up when the package arrived holding something he thought was lost decades ago.

“Years ago he had told me he got a medal in Korea and had it shipped home to his mother,” says Yvonne, wartime mementos spread across her kitchen table. “We totally forgot about it until I started going through these things of his. We really wanted to be able to find it. But we never did.”

Yvonne discovered two letters, yellowed and tattered from age, from the Army announcing Russ’s Meritorious Service Award.

She figured the actual medal was lost to time — until she told the story to Cheryl Libera, Russ’s caregiver from Suncoast Hospice.

Cheryl likes playing Nancy Drew for her patients. So she did some research, made some calls and filled out some forms. 

“We had some difficulty getting some of the information straight regarding his years of service,” says Cheryl, adding that her mission to get a replacement looked bleak.

But then, the package arrived.

The Meritorious Service Medal is a beautiful thing and even has his name engraved.

Russ knows exactly who to give it to: his grandson Drew.

“It’s very special to us,” says Yvonne, as she hugs Cheryl with tears in her eyes.