Students at North Salisbury Elementary were always excited whenever Mr. Mowbray visited their School for a living history lesson. That’s because then-87-year-old Charles Mowbray was a Navy sailor during World War II and he had a lot of interesting stories to tell the children at this Maryland elementary school.
They were epic tales of battling the enemy, escaping attacks, and life-risking rescues—stories that only the brave and the courageous could live through to tell.
One particular student was enamored with his fascinating stories. Leanna Morris soaked up every word he said and every photograph Mr. Mowbray used to illustrate his captivating tales.
When he told the story of when he helped rescue fellow soldiers after a Kamikaze attack, Leanna didn’t doubt for a second that he was afraid. It’s “because he’s brave,” she said.
Then one day during another living history lesson, Leanna noticed something that caught her attention.
She asked Mr. Mowbray why he always brought pictures of his medals instead of his real ones—what he told her left the little girl in a deep discomfort she couldn’t ignore.
87-year-old Charles Mowbray never received the medals he earned for his service in World War II.
Mowbray said it was because he never received them.
“I thought the government would send them after a while but they didn’t.”
Sixty-seven years have gone by since he was supposed to receive his medals, but Mowbray has accepted that he may never receive them.
But the injustice left the then-8-year-old elementary school student disturbed. Even though Mowbray laughed it off and has seemed to have moved on, it really saddened the little girl.
She couldn’t laugh it off and refused to move on.
“Because he fought for our country and our freedom and everyone deserves something for that,” she said.
It bothered Leanna so much she couldn’t stop thinking about it for weeks. So she sat down and wrote a two-page letter asking Senator Barbara Mikulski to send the World War II Veteran his hard-earned, long-overdue recognition.
“Mr. Mowbray has been waiting for 67 years, and we don’t want him to wait any longer!” Leanna wrote.
Leanna said it would mean a lot to her if Mr. Mowbray ever did get his medals one day. “I would probably throw a party!”
Then in 2013, just a few weeks after she sent the letter, it wasn’t a party she got, but an assembly—a surprise for both student and vet put together by her school.
It seems Senator Mikulski didn’t want Mr. Mowbray to wait any longer either.
Leanna had the honor of presenting Charles Mowbray with his medals in an award ceremony 67 years in the making.
“It was nice,” said a surprised Mowbray. “It was worth the wait.”