TIGARD, Ore. (KOIN) — Ellina Spyker was ready for just another lunch where she lives at Summerfield Estates in Tigard. But she noticed there were a lot of TV cameras there.
She had no idea they were there for her.
Nearly 95, Spyker got an early birthdaygift from U.S. Rep. Suzanne Bonamici – the eight medals she never received for her service during World War II and beyond.
She enlisted in 1943 and said she served 24 years around the world in both the U.S. Army Air Corps and the Women’s Army Corps. During World War II, she was stationed in England, Belgium and Germany, reaching the highest rank attainable: Command Sergeant Major.
This day was like Christmas for her, only she earned every gift she received.
The medals she received included: Meritorious Service Medal, Army Commendation Medal, Good Conduct Medal, Women’s Army Corps Service Medal, European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal, World War II Victory Medal, Army of Occupation Medal, and the National Defense Service Medal.
“I felt going to school wasn’t that important and I wanted to do my share,” she told KOIN 6 News.
Spyker said she heard she’d be getting at least one medal — the WAC medal — some day in the mail. But she was caught off guard this day.
“It’s amazing, amazing. Overwhelming, I should say,” she said.
While flipping through old photos, she laughed and said she didn’t know how many medals total she now has.
“I haven’t counted them,” she said.
It gave her another chance to share memories of a career and a life she loved and laughed her way through.
“You had to have a sense of humor,” she said. “Otherwise you’d be going nuts.”
These eight medals are just a small token of her accomplishments, distilled into a small stack bound by a ribbon of red, white and blue.