TRIBES HILL - When Ed Snyder went to American Legion Post 337 in Broadalbin for breakfast with his extended family recently, he didn't know it would be more than a typical family outing.
Snyder, 66 years after he was honorably discharged from the U.S. Navy, received five medals for his service.
Snyder's children had contacted a longtime friend of his to attend the event Sept. 15. That friend, U.S. Rep. Paul Tonko, obliged and presented the 90-year-old Snyder with the medals, including the Navy Good Conduct Medal, the World War II Victory Medal, the American Campaign Medal, a Discharge Button and the Honorable Service Lapel Pin.
Ed Snyder, a Tribes Hill resident who served in World War II, looks though medals he received recently for his service.
The Leader-Herald/Arthur Cleveland
During his service in World War II, from 1942-46, Snyder was stationed in Virginia and was in a squad in charge of making sure the planes were ready to go to war on the European front by checking the fuel levels and the engines.
"They depended on us to make sure the aircraft was in the best shape," he said. "I got a feeling of satisfaction knowing I did what I could to make sure the pilot was safe. We were all part of it. We all depended on one another."
What Snyder remembers the most from his time in the military was working together as a squad and developing good friendships.
"That was one of the good things for me and a lot of other guys," he said. "We became very close to each other."
For Snyder, the most important part of the breakfast wasn't the medals, which he never applied for and was never concerned about receiving - it was about enjoying time with friends and family.
"It was good food, and I got a chance to see people I haven't been able to see in a while," he said. "It was a pleasant surprise."
Those in attendance Sept. 15 said they could see how much Snyder appreciated the surprise.
Betsy Ryan, who has been bartending at the Broadalbin post for 22 years, said she could see the tears in Snyder's eyes when he found out why they brought him there.
"It gives me goosebumps and brings tears to my eyes to see [veterans] surprised," Ryan said. "They don't feel like they did anything great or anything special."
She explained that the younger veterans coming home now have the same mindset. She said they know it's their job, and they also are honored to go to the post and talk to the older veterans.
Tonko said he wanted to be involved because he has known Snyder for 50 years, and he knows what these ceremonies represent.
"I think it's nice to do this in a public setting, because these were medals earned in his hard work," Tonko said. "It had to be recognized in a public forum, I believe."