SOUTH PORTLAND — Mitzi Goddard and her sister Carole Buck were young when their oldest brother, Jacob Buck, went off to fight in World War II.

Today their memories of him have dimmed because Buck, a private in the U.S. Army, died in action, said the sisters, both of Portland.

So receiving a medal in his honor 71 years after his death was a way to bring his memory alive.

“We called him ‘Junie.’ He was a sniper in France,” said Goddard.

The sisters were among the families of eight soldiers killed in action and seven soldiers seriously injured in combat who were remembered at a ceremony at the Maine Military Museum and Learning Center in South Portland on Saturday.

Gold medals were handed out to families of the fallen soldiers killed in World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War, while silver medals were awarded to the families of the wounded soldiers.

The medals are distributed periodically at special ceremonies by Maine’s Bureau of Veterans’ Services through a program created in 2006 that honors service members with: an honorable certificate of service; a bronze star for the noncombat death of a service member in the line of duty; a silver star for service members who have been awarded a Purple Heart or were a prisoner of war; and a gold star for service members killed in combat.

Lt. Col. Peter Ogden of the veterans’ bureau said the state has issued about 500 gold stars and about 1,700 silver stars so far. Many of those who apply for the recognition learn about the program at the military museum, where curator and director Lee Humiston has made it his mission to identify eligible recipients.

“They deserve to be remembered,” said Humiston.

Some of the families of soldiers said the program has rekindled interest in their military pasts.

John Fowler of Corinna said it was only recently that he discovered he was named after his uncle John Fowler of Portland, a seaman first class who was killed in action in 1945. Fowler said not a lot is known about his uncle at this point.

“They didn’t talk about the war and now we have lost that whole generation,” Fowler said.

Rodney Voisine of Windham said his uncle Richard Voisine, born in Fort Kent, was only 22 and a corporal in the Army when he died in the Korean War.

“My dad talked about him quite a bit. But the Korean War is the forgotten war. He is not forgotten in my mind and I will make sure he is not forgotten by the family,” Voisine said.

Other families’ memories of their fallen or wounded soldiers remain fresh.

Anneliese Bonner of Buxton was at the ceremony to pick up a silver star in memory of her husband, Robert Bonner, a retired U.S. Army major who was wounded in the back and heel in World War II. She said her husband, who was on the Portland police force in the 1930s, was tough and didn’t immediately seek medical help at a hospital for his wounds.

A native German, she met him while working as an interpretor for the U.S. Army in 1950. She said it took their relationship 11 years to warm up enough for marriage.

“He turned out to be the most wonderful husband,” she said.

The family of Carl Boulter of Buxton, a Navy pilot who died in World War II, said the memory of him remains strong.

Carl Dunn of Naperville, Illinois, Boulter’s nephew, said his uncle, a Bowdoin College athlete, was invited to be in the Olympic trials before he went off to war.

It is assumed that Boulton’s plane was shot down off the coast of Brazil by the Germans but his body was never found.

“They went out looking (for Germans) and were never heard from again,” Dunn said.

 Lt. j.g. Carl Boulter, Navy, missing in action June 11, 1943.

 Staff Sgt. Armand Roy, Army, killed in action Dec. 25, 1944.

 Sgt. Lucien Roy, Army, killed in action May 12, 1944.

 Seaman 1st Class John Fowler, Navy, missing in action Jan. 30, 1945.

 Tech. Sgt. Frank Callahan, Army Air Forces, killed in action March 24, 1945.

 Pvt. Lawrence Campbell, Army, killed in action.

 Pfc. Jacob Buck, Army, killed in action Nov. 19, 1945.

 Cpl. Richard Voisine, Army, killed Oct. 5, 1951.

 Maj. Robert Bonner, Army, wounded in action, Germany.

 Pfc. Eugene Fredette, Army, wounded in action Sept. 12, 1944, and April 22, 1945.

 Staff Sgt. Earl Gordan, Army Air Forces, wounded in action Nov. 26, 1943.

 Pfc. Warren Young, Army, wounded in action April 27, 1945.

 Staff Sgt. Roy Ryder, Army Air Forces, wounded in action June 11, 1944.

 Pfc. Russell Boomer, Army, wounded in action July 2, 1945.

 Pvt. Frank Cooper, Army, wounded in action Nov. 9, 1965, and July 4, 1966.

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