Monday, May 26, 2008

Charles Durning -- Real American Hero

UPDATE: Re-posting this one for Memorial Day from its original posting.

Charles Durning is being given France's National Legion of Honor for his service and actions World War II.

Here's his bio from PBS -- when he hosted the Memorial Day National Concert.

A snippet:
As a 17-year-old infantryman, Durning was among the first wave of men to land on Omaha Beach. During that campaign and later in the war, he was wounded three times and awarded three Purple Hearts and a Silver Star.... Indeed, his war decorations were hard-earned. Durning was the only man to survive a machine gun ambush on Omaha Beach - and he had to rise above serious wounds and kill seven German gunners to do it.

Months later in Belgium, he was stabbed eight times by a German teenage soldier wielding a bayonet; Durning eventually bludgeoned him to death with a rock. He was released from the hospital in time to fight in the Battle of the Bulge, where he was taken prisoner. After escaping a subsequent massacre of the other prisoners, he was obliged by American forces to return to the scene and help identify bodies. Finally, a bullet in the chest a few months later ended his relentless tour of duty - and began four years of repeated hospitalizations for his physical and psychological injuries.

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