Delores Sternot accepted a Silver Star and Bronze Medal in her cousin's honor nearly 75 years after his death.
Staff Sgt. Edmund Sternot of the 101st Airborne Division was killed in action in Belgium during the Battle of the Bulge in 1945.
His only surviving relative, Delores Sternot, accepted the medals on her cousins behalf Sunday afternoon.
"It means joy, it means happiness. There's some sadness to it that Eddie is no longer living," said Sternot.
The ceremony took place in Santa Barbara at the Pierre Claeyssens Veterans Foundation and local veterans as well as members of Sternot's former regiment - the Army's 101st Airborne Division were in attendance.
The presentation may have never happened if it wasn't for a rare encounter by another soldier in 2001.
Retired Army Lieutenant Bill Linn was attending Mass in Belgium when a woman approached him with an engraved prayer book which she said her woodcutter father had found in a nearby forest.
"She put it in my hand and she said after all these years, we want to find the family -- either the soldier or we want to find the family that this belonged to," said Linn who is now the Vice President of Heritage Arsenal in Colorado.
Linn then went on a journey to find Sternot's family and after many conversations regarding his achievements and awards, he realized the family never received some very important honors in his name.
"He said what about the bronze medal? and I said we don't have any of that either. All we have is his purple heart," added Sternot.
Bill reached out to an archivist in Washington who was able to find the citation for the Silver Star in the National Archives. Sgt. Sternot's cousins also accepted a Bronze Medal in his honor as a result of his time served in Normandy, Holland, and Bastogn.
All of his accolades have been donated to the Heritage Arsenal Collection in Colorado.