WHITE PLAINS, New York (WABC) --It was an honor seven decades in the making, as a former Navy Seabee and World War II veteran was finally being recognized for his service in a surprise ceremony in Westchester County Friday.
John Politi, Sr., found out it's never too late to be recognized for heroic service to this country.
"I'm very proud of what happened to me today," he said. "I didn't expect this."
With the help of Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, Politi's military service was properly recognized with several medals.
"We have these three medals, which is for serving in the pacific," Astorino said. "(John), you've blessed us all."
Politi felt extremely humbled by the ceremony.
"This means a lot to me," he said. "I appreciate it."
Seven decades after he earned his medals, Politi finally received his World War II Victory Medal, American Theatre Medal and the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal for his Naval service.
"Of all the people in the military, the World War II veterans were appropriately named the greatest generation," Director of Veterans Service Agency Rob Tocci.
Politi had fought in the second Battle of Guam, a most important battle in the Pacific, in which the US was able to recapture the strategic island from the Japanese.
Assigned to the Seabees, he and his fellow sailors set about to rebuild important air fields, docks and other facilities.
"We built the camps, the barracks, everything for the soldiers," Politi said.
His son, John Politi, Jr., is also very proud of all his father's accomplishments.
"They built the roads and other necessary infrastructure, including a POW encampment, so that Guam could be turned into a base of operations for allied operations," he said.
Not long after, the war in the Pacific ended.
"I was only doing what every other brave woman and man was asked to do to defend the United States of America," Politi, Sr., said in a statement read by his son.
Surrounded by his loving family, Politi was also given a proclamation commemorating a life that he wishes for everyone.
"Live a good happy life, the way I lived it," he said. "Thank you all. Thank you."