Peoria veteran gets long awaited medals

Sep 23, 2013

Retired U.S. Air Force veteran, Benny Percy, receives recognition from Congressman Aaron Schock for time served during classified mission.
Credit Denise Molina / Peoria Public Radio
A retired U.S. Air Force veteran was finally recognized for his part in a classified mission that took place more than three decades ago. Congressman Aaron Schock presented an Air Force Longevity Service Ribbon, Air Force Good Conduct Medal, and Humanitarian Service Medal to 54-year old Benny Percy.

Percy was part of the aborted, Operation Eagle Claw mission, an effort to rescue 52 American hostages from the U.S. Embassy in Tehran in 1980. Percy says he wasn’t seeking the recognition. Rather, he was looking for a government job after recently retiring from the Illinois State Police.

"Some of the government positions that I was interested in require that you be a combat veteran. Since I served in a time of peace, they didn't consider me as a combat veteran. Therefore, my veteran status stopped me in the process along the way, and I was no longer considered or I could not apply for those positions," says Percy. 

Percy says after doing some research, he found his mission qualified him to be a combat veteran. But because his role was classified, the Air Force had no record of him taking part in Operation Eagle Claw. Percy says he kept records of his effort and asked Congressman Schock’s office to assist him in correcting his service history. It took nine months to correct the records and to present the awards.