Friday, August 11, 2000

WWII vet honored at last

The Associated Press

        RADCLIFF — An 80-year-old, bedridden World War II veteran received the Purple Heart at a ceremony, 60 years after he was wounded.

        William Burns was surrounded by Army officials, friends, community leaders and family members for Tuesday's presentation, which came about six months after a fellow veteran and Purple Heart recipient initiated a campaign to get Burns his overdue honor.

        “Seeing those men in uni form made me feel like home,” said Mr. Burns, who was unable to hold the award because he suffers from severe arthritis.

        Vietnam War veteran Brig. Gen. Billy Cooper officiated the ceremony.

        “On one hand, it's an honor to present the award because of his service and sacrifice,” Gen. Cooper said. “On the other hand, it's tremendously emotional to see a fellow soldier who is obviously coming to the end of his time with us on Earth.”

        Michael Burns, the recipient's youngest son, was pleased his father was alive to receive the recognition.

        “This country has everything to owe to the Vietnam veterans, the World War II veterans and the Korean War veterans,” said Michael Burns, a Gulf War veteran. “It's an honor not only for my dad, but for others that didn't get to come back home.”

        The family applauded the determination of Ed Barrett, a Radcliff resident who initiated a paper trail that reached Sen. Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican.

        Heidi Burns, who has cared for her husband since he returned home from a nursing home about two years ago, said she was happy her husband was present at the ceremony.

        “This is a wonderful day for my husband. He's been so excited,” she said. “I know that they can give the Purple Heart to the family posthumously, but I wanted him to see it.”


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- WWII vet honored at last