REXBURG, Idaho - Nearly 70 years after he served, a local World War II veteran was awarded a medal Tuesday.
Madison County native Darrell Neville, 90, was awarded the Norwegian World War II participation medal at the Romance Theater in Rexburg.
Moments after being pinned with the medal, Neville joked about seeing movies in the same theater with his high school sweetheart. Just weeks after graduating Madison High School, the two were married at the Salt Lake City LDS Temple.
"When we got home from being married, I guess the draft board decided if I had time to get married, I had time to go in the Army, so there was my draft notice. I was married the second of June and by the fifth of July I was in the service," said Neville.
He was assigned to be a medic in the U.S. Army's 99th Infantry Battalion.
"It became a decoy for a potential invasion to Norway by setting up officially a Norwegian battalion. U.S. government and President (Franklin) Roosevelt signaled to Adolf Hitler that we have battalions that are aimed for that country," said Capt. Yngve Skoglund, who represented Norway at the ceremony.
In the past several years, Norway has awarded the participation medals to honor those American veterans who helped their country.
"It's a great honor, one thing is presenting the medal, but meeting a gentleman like Darrell Neville, I'm humbled," said Skoglund.
It was an emotional ceremony for Neville's family; one of his six children were among the speakers. Skoglund presented the medal, a certificate, and even chocolate. Rexburg Mayor Richard Woodland gave Neville the key to the city. Local lawmakers also attended, and Idaho Gov. Butch Otter sent a personal letter that was read to celebrate Neville.
"I had no anticipation that it was going to be this big. I had no idea. My son told me it was going to be bigger but I had no idea," said Neville.
Seats were filled nearly to the back row of the Romance Theater, where Neville sat with his wife all those years ago.