Veteran gets his medals back after they were stolen 50 years ago

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World War II medals earned more than 70 years ago, were awarded Friday to Connecticut veteran Joe Novellino.

"I'm proud to present these medals to you," said Senator Richard Blumenthal.

Novellino was a Sergeant in the Army, stationed in Africa and Italy during the war. His distinguished service earned him five medals, which were stolen nearly 50 years ago from his Newington home.

"Somebody broke in the house. I was on vacation. I had no idea," said Novellino.

"It was like taking his heart from him and I could see that empty space that he had," said Novellino's stepdaughter, Gina Puglisi.

Gina said the family tried unsuccessfully to have the medals reissued, so they called FOX61.

(FOX 61)

"Within five minutes, everything was in the works. Mr. Blumenthal called me," added Puglisi.

"Any veteran who has earned medals deserves to have them," said Blumenthal.

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Blumenthal made sure the Pentagon reissued Joe's medals, and presented them today at the Rocky Hill Town Hall.

"I'm very proud to be a part of his life and to be a part of making sure he receives the recognition he deserves," said Blumenthal.

Puglisi added, "He served for our country. He deserves his medals. He deserves all that and then some."

Read more from FOX 61.