Filipek was wounded twice on the island, for which he was awarded the Purple Heart. Each time, he returned to the front lines.
The Bronze Star came from an action on June 12, 1945. "My squad leader went up onto a hill and got shot," Filipek said before the ceremony. "No one would go get him." Filipek said he went up the hill to bring his sergeant back.
But it was a little more complicated than that. Filipek was under fire from a Japanese machine gun the entire way. While he was on the hill, he noted the location of the machine gun so his fellow Marines could knock the gun out.
On Monday, Filipek was given those medals and a number of campaign medals he earned for his part in the war. They included the Combat Action Ribbon for soldiers who have been in combat; the Presidential Unit Citation for his unit, the 6th Marine Division; The Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal; American Campaign Medal for soldiers who served in a combat theater during the war; China Service Medal for those who served in and around China; Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal, for soldiers who served in the Pacific Theater; and the World War II Victory Medal, awarded to those who served in the war.
St. Albans Mayor Dick Callaway said that, like many veterans, Filipek didn't talk much about the war. "Walt went 65 years before he told any of the stories you've heard here," Callaway said.
Between chats with the crowd, Hoyer and Capito, Filipek told a couple of war stories Monday. But he left out the bad parts.
One time on Okinawa, he recalled his unit being ordered across a coral reef to attack a neighboring island from which a Japanese artillery unit had been shelling Okinawa. They were told that either everyone would make it back, or no one would.
When they got there, they found that the Japanese had abandoned the position.
"We made it back," Filipek said.Reach Rusty Marks at rustyma...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1215.