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Veteran to be honored 70 years after refusing a Purple Heart

(Reuters) - An 89-year-old U.S. World War Two veteran who was wounded when his plane crashed in occupied France in 1944 is due to be honored on Saturday with a medal he declined 70 years ago.

Richard Faulkner was 19 when the B-17 bomber in which he was flying collided with another allied aircraft, killing everyone except the staff sergeant, who found himself stranded behind enemy lines.

When he escaped Nazi-controlled territory Faulkner was offered the Purple Heart, but he declined it.

The Purple Heart is awarded to members of the U.S. armed forces who are wounded in battle and posthumously if they are killed in action or die after being wounded in action.

About a year ago Faulkner found himself regretting his decision because he wanted his grandchildren to have something by which they could remember his military service, said his daughter-in-law Mary Ellen Faulkner.

She said the veteran had felt awkward about receiving an award given the deaths of the other servicemen.

She reached out to her father-in-law's congressman, Democrat Dan Maffei, whose office determined that the veteran was still eligible to receive the medal. Maffei plans to visit Richard Faulkner's Auburn, New York, home on Saturday to present the award, his office said in a statement.

Faulkner was in the gun turret under the belly of the lumbering B-17 when the accident occurred, slicing his plane in two. He parachuted out.

"The next thing I knew I was in under my chute on a side hill," Faulkner recalled in an online posting on Scribd.com.

German soldiers searched for him, but the wounded airman hid and was later sheltered in a hayloft by a farmer.

Faulkner connected with French resistance fighters, who helped him get to the coast, where downed Allied airmen were picked up by British ships.

When the torpedo boat that rescued Faulkner was attacked by German aircraft, he took up gunner duties to replace a man who was killed by enemy fire.

Faulkner made it to the safety of England on April 16, 1944 after 29 days behind enemy lines.

(Reporting by Matthew Liptak; Editing by Scott Malone, Toni Reinhold)

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WayneBMarshburn March 08 2014 at 12:12 PM

I feel good when I see ww2 veterans get acknowledged because most of it come to late. Mostly all of the congradulations that they got they never got to see because of dying off just like my Daddy that was in Okinawa and Guadal Canal and was also on the Coolidge when it was sunk. He did not die in the war but never received a dime extra for what misery that he went through. I know that because of him and all the other men like him is the main reason that this country survived and I appreciate everyone of them and I hope that everyone else does. WM

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ggena March 08 2014 at 1:50 PM

These spammers make it seem profitable with their lies, to do what they're doing. Don't fall for it, because in the end, it will profit them and cost you.
If it sounds too good to be true, then it must be too good to be true.

Beware these con artists.

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baldtoolguy052 March 08 2014 at 1:57 PM

This man is more than a hero. His sense of guilt to have survived the crash is horrible! And even after he was wounded, scrambled to safety, evaded capture he had the guts to grab a postion on bouncing little PT boat during combat to replace a man he just watched get killed?

Where is his Silver Star!

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eeodjo March 08 2014 at 2:06 PM

Why do you allow spammers to print their obnoxious remarks about making so much working with a laptop or a computer, which doesn't have anything to do with the subject matter. It just doesn't make any sense.

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1 reply
pH eeodjo March 08 2014 at 2:18 PM

Plus, in a case like this, an others, it tarnishes a good report on someone that has done outstanding service for all of us. Seven-of-Nine should send a signal through his computer and knock them on their butts!

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1 reply
mj6381 pH March 08 2014 at 2:52 PM

Reporting them doesn't do anything either... "Someone" must make a commission on how many visit the link from AOL's comment forums no???? If you figure out how to knock them on their butts, PLEASE let me know... I'm a lover not a fighter, but would love to send a signal of my own!!!!

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mortwiw March 08 2014 at 2:13 PM

I'm very glad he is receiving his medal he had earned years ago. Mr. Faulkner is a very fortunate man to have survived at all given the sudden severity of the damage which destroyed his plane and killed all his fellow crewmen. When I read further on that he was in the ball turret in the plane's underside I was totally astounded. I don't claim to be an expert, but I've read a fair amount about B-17's, their design and combat history, and everything mentioning the details of the ball turret's extra difficulties for entrance and exiting made it the worst place to be at position in when the need to parachute arose. Thank you, Richard Faulkner, for your brave service.

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ccdae5 March 08 2014 at 2:21 PM

Congrats sir and thank you very much for your service!

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caddi51 March 08 2014 at 2:28 PM

Great story I only wish that the spammers woukd stay the hell out of it.

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2 replies
trimules caddi51 March 08 2014 at 2:39 PM

Good point caddi51 - I can't believe that AOL and Yahoo can't stop this flood of spam that has inundated every post reply column recently. It would seem that they could filter these posts as they all have similar contruction and language.

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mj6381 caddi51 March 08 2014 at 2:45 PM

Especially after an article as Great as this one... He's a HERO and He and His family deserve nothing but Great comments... Those idiots post over and over again in every comment forum...don't even read the article and I've seen as many as 2 dozen in the same forum. I report every single one I see but have yet to see any attempt to do about it. I get them in my emails even after I report their ip: addresses. Such a shame these people have nothing better to do with their smarts...

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1 reply
G-Money mj6381 March 08 2014 at 3:14 PM


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drdavidwhitten March 08 2014 at 2:38 PM

That's a wonderful and inspirational story!!! Thank you for your valiant service - you and your comrades who did not survive are heroes worthy of every award and honor. I was born while you were behind enemy lines. I honor and respect you, Sir!

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Jack March 08 2014 at 2:40 PM

God bless a true American hero!
We'll likely never see your kind again.

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1 reply
G-Money Jack March 08 2014 at 3:15 PM

THERE ARE some that come home evey day to this day

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apietragallo March 08 2014 at 2:45 PM

Great story!

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