Almost 70 years later, Vahan Hovey, a World War II veteran, was finally awarded the Bronze Star Medal for Valor on Thursday, November ,6 at the Oxford Senior Center after many years of not being located due to a simple name change.
The whereabouts of Mr. Hovey remained a mystery for many years after the end of WWII. He could not be located through records or databases in order to receive his Bronze Star.
Mr. Hovey had changed his last name from Hovannissian, of Armenian decent, to Hovey. “It was too long to fit on the record label then,” Mr. Hovey joked at the event.
Due to this name change, he could not be found for almost 70 years in order to receive his Bronze Medal. Last Thursday he was honored in a crowded room at the senior center where he was not only awarded the medal for valor but also certificates of recognition.
Bill Baxter, the former two times past commander for American Legion Post 174 presented Mr. Hovey with a special proclamation from the state of Connecticut. State Sen. Rob Kane, R-32, originally wanted to present the proclamation; however, he was not able to attend.
Henry Rotzal, the current commander of the legion post, led the event and told the background story of Mr. Hovey who served the U.S. Army from 1944 to 1945.
During that time, he became a prisoner of war after being captured by the Nazis. He was temporarily listed as missing in action, however, was eventually liberated in 1945.
After returning from war; Mr. Hovey received the Purple Heart and began working closely with American conductor and music producer Mitch Miller. It was during that time he changed his last name.
Mr. Hovey led a simple life in Easton before moving to Oxford six years ago. He wrote a book, “The Hand of God,” which chronicles his time as a POW. He’s currently the leader of the Oxford Senior Center’s choir.
Oxford First Selectman George Temple presented a certificate of recognition on the behalf of selectmen. Mr. Temple said he was honored to be presenting the certificate to Mr. Hovey. Mr. Hovey said, to a packed room of Oxford residents, he had thought the event was going to be a lot simpler, but was grateful to receive the recognition.