August 7, 2017

Whitehouse Presents Bronze Star to Family of Late WWII Hero

Walter Feldman honored for exemplary service in the Western Front

Providence, RI – U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse today delivered a Bronze Star Medal to Barbara Feldman, who was married for 67 years to the late Walter Feldman, a World War II Army veteran who passed away in May at the age of 92.  The ceremony took place in Whitehouse’s Providence office surrounded by members of the Feldman family.

“It is my great honor to present this Bronze Star Medal to Walter’s beloved wife Barbara and the Feldman family,” said Whitehouse.  “While Walter passed on before we were able to secure the medal that he earned all those decades ago, today we remember with solemn gratitude his exemplary service.  Walter Feldman was a hero and, like so many members of the Greatest Generation, he answered the call to serve in World War II and spoke little about it upon return.  We are fortunate that the Feldmans decided to make their home here in Rhode Island, where Walter taught generations of college students and created works of art that will continue to remind us of his service to our community and to our nation.”

In April, the couple’s great-niece contacted Whitehouse’s office for assistance securing the Bronze Star Medal that Walter had earned through his heroic service in the U.S. Army during World War II.  According to Army regulations, veterans who earned a Combat Infantry Badge in World War II are also eligible for a Bronze Star Medal, upon presenting proof of honorable service.  After several months of investigation, Whitehouse’s office was able to locate the relevant service records, which were found in severely damaged condition, and secure Walter’s Bronze Star Medal for his family.

“My family is honored to accept this award on Walter’s behalf,” said Sonja Shield, Feldman’s great-niece.  “Walter was a true mensch, who was wounded at the age of 19 in the Battle of the Bulge, and whose war experience permeated every aspect of his life afterward – in particular, his art and his sense of ethics.  We were all aware of how much he lived with the pain of his war injury on a daily basis, but he never made a big deal of it and didn’t like to complain.  He always said that his body was just the envelope for his true self.  We want to express our deepest gratitude to Senator Whitehouse and his staff, who helped us apply for Walter’s Bronze Star Medal, and without whom we wouldn’t have been able to find the small, faint notation on a 72-year-old military record that allowed us to prove that Walter qualified for this medal.”

Walter left Yale University to enlist in the Army in 1945.  After being injured during the Battle of the Bulge, he was awarded a Combat Infantry Badge for exemplary performance of duty in active ground combat and a Purple Heart.  After he left the Army, Walter completed his studies at Yale.  Walter and Barbara Feldman lived in Providence where Walter was a professor in Brown University’s Art Department for more than five decades.  His portfolio included paintings, mosaics, woodcuts, sculptures, and stained glass.  In 2016, Walter showed a collection of paintings inspired by his experiences in combat at the Providence Art Club.

“I am so proud to have had the good fortune to live with such an honorable person – who looked out for his compatriots beyond himself,” said Barbara Feldman.  “I’m still amazed – although not surprised – to hear how courageous and noble he was before I even met him.  I always thought I married an artist, but I’m just finding out that I married a war hero too.”


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