Augusta native, WWII hero to be honored on Veterans Day

WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) On Veterans Day Saturday, Augusta native Sus Gonazles was honored posthumously with the second highest military medal the British awarded in World War II.

Gonzales, killed in action while serving the U.S. Army during the war, is credited with helping rescue a British platoon that German forces pinned down.

"It's a pretty amazing story. I only found out about it a few weeks ago. Sgt. Gonazles was in the 82nd Airborne Division in World War II in operation Market Garden in Holland. He was actually honored for his part in that battle, where he carried out some pretty significant actions, really defending British soldiers who were also involved in it," says Brigadier Ollie Kingsbury.

Gonzales's sister, Esther Mays accepted the medal on her brother's behalf during a special ceremony.

Mays says she's overjoyed to accept her brother's medal.

"It's just a great thing," she says. "I'm just so proud that he's getting the honor and getting in on Veterans Day. "I want him to be honored and all veterans to be honored."

Sheriff Rob Hoskins is the nephew of Sgt. Gonazles. He was curious about his brother Sus had died so he started getting online and Google searching and doing inquiries to find out what he could about him.

"I located a document in the British archives, a citation for this medal- the Distinguished Conduct Medal- signed by Field Marshall Bernard Law Montgomery, and I started making inquiries to if the medal had actually ever been bestowed upon him, and I could not find any documentation on that," says Hoskins.

He discovered that the British authorized the document to be received on January 29, 1945. At that time, he was in a field hospital dying from wounds.

"Words cannot describe the pride and the magnitude of our feelings right now, about how proud and honored we are. The pride that we feel knowing that they're finally being recognized for their sacrifice is overwhelming."

Another of Mays' brothers, Frank Gonzales, also died in World War II. Frank Gonzales has his story memorialized at a museum in Topeka.