This 94-Year-Old WWII Vet Is Finally Getting His Dying Wish: His Purple Heart
MANCHESTER — A World War II veteran from Manchester is getting his dying wish — a Purple Heart Award, to be presented at a ceremony in his honor more than seven decades after he was injured.
Francis Byrne, 94, of Manchester, enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1943 at the age of 18. He saw his first combat on Omaha Beach in Normandy on D-Day a year later and was injured in the line of duty in Belgium when he was hit by shrapnel from a German land mine.
His story was featured recently in the New Hampshire Union Leader after doctors diagnosed him with kidney and bladder cancer, giving him four months to live. Byrne said he was worried he would never see the award occupy “that empty space” in a display case in his apartment on Front Street.
Then the phone rang Thursday, and Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, Democrat from New Hampshire, gave him the news he had waited years to hear.
“She said, ‘You’re getting your Purple Heart,” said Byrne. “I started shaking … I was so emotional. I didn’t think I would live to see the day. I got off the phone, and I couldn’t call anyone for 20 minutes to tell them about it, I was so emotional.”
“I think he was surprised when I told him,” said Shaheen. “He sounded relieved and overwhelmed. I think he truly didn’t know if he would ever see this day.”
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Shaheen said she called Byrne Thursday after speaking with Secretary of the Army Mark Esper, who confirmed the good news.
“I spoke with Secretary Esper directly, and explained to him Mr. Byrne is a World War II hero, a member of the Greatest …read more
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