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World War II Veteran Receives Bronze Star In Surprise Ceremony After 74 Years

One of WWII's most famous gunners, Clarence Smoyer, lost his chance at a Bronze Star due to a misunderstanding. Nearly 75 years later, that wrong was righted.

An Army Veteran known for his heroism on the front lines of World War II just received the surprise – and honor – of a lifetime. Clarence Smoyer, one of the most famous gunners in World War II and fittingly dubbed the “Hero of Cologne”, lost his chance at a Bronze Star due to a misunderstanding. Now, after nearly 75 years, that wrong was finally righted.

WWII Vet Stripped Of Bronze Star

WJLA reported that during the war, Smoyer was spotted talking to German children who wanted a stick of bubblegum on the streets of the German city of Cologne. This was deemed a violation of the Army’s anti-fraternization policies. Which meant that the WWII Vet was denied his opportunity to get a Bronze Star despite his heroic actions that destroyed a Nazi tank in a fiery duel.

In March of 1945, a German Panther tank had just knocked out two American tanks, leaving three men dead. Thinking fast, Smoyer and his tank crew put a stop to the rampage by going forward and vanquishing the Panther. Film footage of the duel quickly spread around the world, and Smoyer was told he would receive the Bronze Star for his actions. But then he was seen talking to the children.

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“I tried to explain to them I don’t have any,” he said of the moment the children asked him for gum. “I pulled my pockets out to show them they were empty. MP’s pulled up beside me. You’re not supposed to be talking to the Germans. I think that caused me to lose the Bronze Star at Cologne.”

“Hero of Cologne” Surprised With Bronze Star

While this brave WWII Vet ended up with nothing, his tank commander and the cameraman were awarded a Bronze Star. When Adam Makos, author of the book “Spearhead,” realized this two years ago, he went on a mission to convince the Army to award four Bronze Stars to Smoyer and the rest of his tank crew.

Earlier this month, Makos told Smoyer that they were going to the Pentagon for a book signing. When they got to WWII memorial, the now 96 year-old Smoyer got the surprise of his life. He was awarded a Bronze Star in a surprise ceremony!

“It is well overdue and he should have received it a long time ago,” said Sgt. Joe Caserta.

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Smoyer Couldn’t Believe His Eyes

When Smoyer got out of his car and walked towards the ceremony, the words “Bronze Star” left his mouth. This was definitely a day that he never thought would come.

We’re so glad that this World World II Veteran, a true American hero, finally received the honor and recognition that he deserved!

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