World War II vet finally gets Purple Heart

April 8, 2012 at 2:32 PM
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ST. LOUIS, April 8 (UPI) -- A Missouri man was recently presented with a Purple Heart, a medal he earned during World War II, officials said.

Allen Stevens, 87, was presented with the Purple Heart, a medal given to soldiers wounded while on duty, on Saturday by U.S. Rep. Ike Skelton, The Kansas City (Mo.) Star reported.

Stevens earned the medal when he was in Germany during World War II.

"It means all the world to me," said Stevens, of Lawson. "It brings back memories as though we are fighting the war over again. I am very thankful to be here."

Stevens enlisted in the Army on March 1, 1943, when he was 18. He was sent to Europe about a year later as a combat infantryman with the 65th Infantry Division.

He later ended up in Saarlautern, Germany, he said.

There, Stevens was given a special mission to retrieve the body of a German civilian who was killed during battle. On his way to get the body, Stevens' partner stepped on a landmine, which triggered another that sent Stevens flying into the air. He landed on the path and fractured a vertebra.

"It has given me considerable trouble ever since," Stevens said. "But I have to say that Uncle Sam has taken great care of me."

A clerical error was to blame for the delay in Stevens' getting his Purple Heart, said Freddie Dunn, service officer for VFW Post 6278 in Lawson.

Dunn attended the ceremony Saturday and said Stevens was in tears when he received his Purple Heart from Skelton.

"It is important for every veteran who served his country and was wounded to receive his Purple Heart," Dunn said. "And he deserves it. He put his life on the line for the freedom of the people of Europe and for the freedom of the American people. "

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