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Go, Doc Hopper!

April 22nd, 2008 by · 18 Comments

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I’ve always known that actor Charles Durning was a veteran, but now that he is being honored by France, and I see some of the details, I stand in awe:

Actor Charles Durning landed on Normandy’s Omaha Beach as a 17-year-old Army Ranger in June 1944. Before leaving Europe, he was wounded three times and awarded three Purple Hearts and a Silver Star.

The details:

Durning was the only man to survive a machine gun ambush on Omaha Beach – and he had to rise above serious wounds and kill seven German gunners to do it.

Months later in Belgium, he was stabbed eight times by a German teenage soldier wielding a bayonet; Durning eventually bludgeoned him to death with a rock. He was released from the hospital in time to fight in the Battle of the Bulge, where he was taken prisoner. After escaping a subsequent massacre of the other prisoners, he was obliged by American forces to return to the scene and help identify bodies. Finally, a bullet in the chest a few months later ended his relentless tour of duty – and began four years of repeated hospitalizations for his physical and psychological injuries.

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