OCEAN COUNTY, N.J. (CBSNewYork) – This week marks the 6th anniversary of Superstorm Sandy.
A Vietnam veteran in New Jersey is now being reunited with some of his awards that were lost during the storm.
Veteran Bernard Ebner was honored with five military medals for the second time. The new medals are replacements of his originals that were lost when his house was destroyed during the hurricane.
“I had four years of service… When I found out they were lost it really hurt,” the U.S. Navy veteran told CBS2’s Natalie Duddridge.
Ebner’s family home in Union Beach, Monmouth County was flooded by nearly 12 feet of water that reached the second floor of the house.
Everything inside was washed away. It was deemed unlivable and had to be demolished.
“You live in the home 45 years and you have thousands of possessions you just don’t know how many until you’re put in this situation. Took about a year and a half to realize they were gone,” Ebner explained.
When he did realize they were gone, Ebner reached out to Rep. Chris Smith for help. Smith took the request to the Pentagon.
“We did a lot of case work during Hurricane Sandy. We had thousands of people that lost much. This was the first time someone came forward and said my medals are gone.”
On Tuesday, Ebner was re-presented with the awards – including the National Defense Service Medal and the Battle “E” Ribbon which is awarded to Navy crew members who show the highest level of battle preparedness.
Ebner says for now he’ll proudly display the medals in his new home, but eventually he’ll pass them down to his daughters and grandchildren.
“Feels very good, makes me very happy,” the grateful veteran said.
While Ebner says his family was lucky enough to be able to move into a new house on more elevated ground, he’s thinking about all of the people who are still rebuilding and struggling with losses six years later.