Mt. Vernon Register-News

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July 3, 2014

WWII veteran set to take off

MT. VERNON —Decorated World War II veteran Cpl. William Lee will be one of several veterans who will be taking an Honor Flight to Washington D.C on Aug. 6.

Lee, 94, served with the First Infantry Division of the U.S. Armed Forces, also known as the “Big Red One.”

“I was drafted when I was 21 years old and was inducted on Nov. 24, 1941, at Camp Grant,” Lee said.

Lee fought alongside countless other soldiers during the invasion of Normandy, a battle that foreshadowed the end of Hitler’s dream of Nazi domination.

Historical records state that 12 Allied nations provided fighting units for the invasion on June 6, 1944, including Australia, Canada, Belgium, France, Czechoslovakia, Greece, New Zealand, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Many of the first young men that entered the surf carried 80 pounds of equipment. They faced more than 200 yards of

beach before reaching the first natural feature offering any protection.

“They were going to invade on my birthday on June 5, and they did but the weather was so bad they went back on June 6,” Lee said. “My unit wasn’t at the first initial attack on the beach. We got there two weeks later.”

Lee has been awarded several medals for his service in the military.

One of them is the most prestigious French award called the Legion of Honor in the Order of Chevalier. He received the medal eight years ago.

Lee’s Mt. Vernon home is filled with souvenirs from the five years he spent in the Armed Forces. Many of the items include personal reminders of where he was throughout the time he spent in battle and overseas.

“I kept a diary while I was in the Armed Forces of where I was and what was going on day and night,” Lee said.

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