The space where Frank Macon's Congressional Gold Medal once sat is empty no longer.
In a special service at the Air Force Academy Friday, the Tuskegee airman received a replacement medal for the one that was stolen from his home in June.
"There is a great feeling that I have...because of all the people that came out...and I really appreciate the effort," Macon said.
Word spread quickly when the medal was stolen more than a month ago. It was one of 300 replicas given to the surviving members of the Tuskegee Airmen in 2007, the year Macon and his fellow fighters were presented with the highest honor congress can give.
The 21st Space Wing at Peterson Air Force Base, as well as the Air Force Academy, began moving to make sure Macon wouldn't miss the medal forever.
"I'm very happy my Air Force brothers are looking out after me," he said Thursday. "It'll be not the original, but the one they got for me."
The replacement medal obtained by the Air Force from the U.S. Mint was presented at a ceremony beneath the Tuskegee Airmen statue on Academy grounds.
"That's the way the military does things," Macon said.
The 87-year-old World War II veteran now sees the effort and attention to his story as a silver lining to the loss of his medal, both for him and the men he flew with.
"We will get more exposure," he said. "We really contributed to winning the war effort. Some people didn't think we could do it, but we got the job done."
The original Congressional Gold Medal was presented to the famed World War II African American pilots as a group, and is now on display at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.
The replica medal, like the one stolen from Macon, is 3 inches in diameter, and is “non-portable,” meaning it is not to be worn on clothing but placed on display as a trophy.
Macon said that this time around, he will be keeping his medal in a secure spot, and he'll leave a photo of it on the mantle.