Local WWII veteran awarded Purple Heart 70 years later

Published 03/08 2014 06:44PM

Updated 03/08 2014 07:01PM

Auburn (WSYR-TV) -- An Auburn veteran who was wounded in combat 70 years ago in World War II, has received a very special honor. On Saturday, Rep. Dan Maffei honored Richard Faulkner the Purple Heart medal.

On March 18, 1944 Richard Faulkner's plane was shot down.

"He had to use an emergency parachute. When he landed, he was hurt. His ankles and legs were very banged up," said Ann Pennell, Faulkner's daughter.

He was banged up but alive. Sergeant Faulkner was the only person from his B-17 bomber crew to survive the crash in Nazi-occupied France.

"The Germans came because they were looking for him. The farmer who he had landed on his field came after dark to get him and he was taken through the French underground," said Faulkner.

He escaped and returned back home to Central New York where he was offered the Purple Heart, but he turned it down.

"I didn't think I deserved it. They got killed and I didn't," said Faulkner.

But about a year ago -- he changed his mind. Faulkner told his family he wished he would have accepted the medal as a keep-sake for his grandchildren and Saturday he got his wish and was awarded the Purple Heart medal by Rep. Dan Maffei.

"It is an honor," said Faulkner.

"I'm very proud of him, even though he can't wait for it to be over. He's not one for the limelight," said daughter Mary Ellen Faulkner.

89-year-old Faulkner was awarded his Purple Heart standing along-side his children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren.

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