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World War II veteran honored in Phoenix 70 years after serving time in Nazi prison camp

From left to right: Loren Mellendorf, Pat Mellendorf, Sen. John McCain. (KTAR Photo/Mike Sackley)

PHOENIX — A former prisoner of war was honored in north Phoenix on Thursday, receiving medals that were 70 years overdue.

Loren Mellendorf, 90, was a medic during World War II. In early 1945, he was captured in Germany and spent six months in a Nazi prison camp. Although he was eventually liberated from the camp, he never received his Prisoner of War medal.

Mellendorf and his wife, Pat, reached out to several elected officials, including Arizona Sen. John McCain, to get the medal he deserved before finally getting presented with it Thursday at Sagewood in north Phoenix.

“It’s like a weight lifted,” Mellendorf said. “I always knew I would get (the medal) someday, but I was beginning to have some doubts.”

McCain and the Arizona National Guard presented Mellendorf with seven medals: Prisoner of War medal, Good Conduct medal, American Theater Campaign medal, the European, African and Middle Eastern Campaign medal, two bronze service stars and the World War II Victory medal.

McCain said it is important to honor our greatest generation and those who served our country with valor. McCain, a former prisoner of war during Vietnam, said he feels a kinship with Mellendorf.

“I certainly feel close to him and it brings back some memories that I have of the comrades that I had that were really responsible for me being here today,” McCain said.

McCain said he hopes those who served during World War II will continue to inspire future generations.

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