GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - They are a military family, where patriotism runs deep. A nearly 90-year-old Francis Ward of Biloxi, worked for several years to replace the lost military medals his father earned in World War I. And on Tuesday, he received them. It was a brief, but meaningful ceremony inside the fourth floor office of Senator Thad Cochran at the federal courthouse in downtown Gulfport.
"We're here today to recognize Frank Ward, who is an American hero," said Keith Heard, the senator's chief of staff.
Accepting the honors was his son, Francis Ward, who also goes by Frank. Among the medals: the Purple Heart.
"This would be the Purple Heart. And I've very pleased to recognize your father with this," said Heard.
"Beautiful," said Ward, "I'm related to the man who originated this, George Washington."
"Well, you certainly carried on his tradition well," said Heard.
Francis Ward served in World War II, Korea and Vietnam. His father, a hero in the first Great War, joined the Army at age 14. He was recognized for his selfless bravery in Cantigny, France.
"He received the Distinguished Service Cross, because he had, he was in battle and went into no man's land to take out a sniper. And he saved hundreds of lives because of this action," said Heard, as he presented the medal.
The nearly 90-year-old son recalled hearing the war stories.
"I used to sit and listen to these old friends sit on the sofa and they'd have a highball and talk about their war experiences. I met several Medal of Honor people," said Francis Ward.
"He's a character. And very sharp on history. I've learned so much from him. I just love him to death," said nephew, Harold McCanick.
A grateful Francis Ward has looked forward to this meaningful moment.
"He started a few years ago. And it's been a long journey," said his wife, Mary Ann Ward, "Very, very important for him."
"He was always patriotic. He belonged to two VFWs. And he was a patriot. He raised me as a patriot. I guess I'm going to die as a patriot, I hope," said Ward.
The elder Frank Ward died in a car accident in California in 1957. In the years which followed, somehow his military medals were lost or misplaced. His son, pledges to take good care of those replacements.