Nine military medals and honors presented to family of deceased Fennville Army Private

An Army Private from Fennville, who passed way more than 60 years ago, was honored today with nine military medals and honors.

GRAND RAPIDS, MICH. - U.S. Senator Gary Peters (D-MI) presented nine medals and honors to the family of U.S. Army Private Frederick Ash.

The presentation unfolded Friday at the American Legion Boat and Canoe Club in Grand Rapids.

Ash bravely served in the European Theater in World War II and passed away in the 1950s. Peters helped obtain the commendations after Mr. Ash’s daughter contacted his offer to ensure his contributions to our nation were properly honored. Peters is a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee and a former Lt. Commander in the U.S. Navy Reserve.

“Private Ash was part of the Greatest Generation, fighting in the trenches of Europe in defense of our country, our allies and our shared democratic values under threat from a fascist dictator,” said Senator Peters, a former Lieutenant Commander in the U.S. Navy Reserve.

“Private Ash suffered through harsh conditions and distinguished himself through meritorious conduct in the fight against tyranny, and today we honor his patriotism and valiant service on behalf of a grateful nation. While some of the details of his story have been lost to history, I hope that with these medals his heroic actions will live on in the memories of his children and grandchildren who are here today.”

The awards Sen. Peters presented to the Ash family include the Bronze Star Medal, Purple Heart, Good Conduct Medal, Presidential Unit Citation, American Campaign Medal, European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with Double Bronze Star Attachment, World War II Victory Medal, Combat Infantryman Badge 1st Award and Honorable Service Lapel Button World War II. 

Frederick Ash was born and raised in West Michigan, and enlisted in the U.S. Army in the spring of 1942 at Fort Custer – shortly after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. He served in the as an infantryman in the European Theater during World War II. Following his honorable discharge in 1945, he returned to West Michigan and started a family. He worked as a commercial fisherman in Saugatuck and was tragically killed in a boating accident in the 1950s.

"I was very surprised to find out along the line that that your dad has very many medals that were honored to him," said Cheryl Heinrich, Ash's daughter. "I'm very proud of him, and wished he could be here to accept them himself."

All records of Private Ash’s service were destroyed in a 1973 fire at the National Personnel Records Center. Due to the fire, records regarding the extent of Private Ash’s actions, including those that earned him the Purple Heart and Bronze Star, are no longer available.

"When I'm gone, I will make sure that my granddaughter gets these awards," said Heinrich.

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