Private Alan Hayden received a special medal Monday, honoring him as a prisoner of war in Germany. It's an honor he says that he'll share.
"I am accepting the award, honoring all the men who, at that time, were prisoners of war, said Hayden.
That memory includes a buddy that Hayden, at age 18, saw shot down at point blank range, moments after capture.
Hayden hit roadblocks in applying for the medal on his own. This past June, he asked administrators at the Masonic Home of New Jersey if they could help, and they reached out to Congressman Chris Smith.
"Very often reinstating discharge papers and all the rest, it's like a Sherlock Holmes thing, so I jumped in with both feet," said Congressman Smith.
After years of trying, Private Hayden can finally say mission accomplished.
"This is a burden he has carried for many years, the burden of wanting to honor the other prisoners of war, not just himself. He never thought he'd be able to accomplish it before he died," said Patricia Concannon, a volunteer coordinator.
Private Hayden also dedicates his medal to all the captured and the fallen, including the young soldiers of today.
"I see them on television all of the time with flag covered caskets and that hurts. That is what the award is for, not me, but for them," he said.