PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Albert Crawford was like thousands of young Americans in the wake of Pearl Harbor.
He dropped out of high school and at the age of 17, and joined the Navy.
This morning, Crawford was given a medal for the part he played in liberating France.
“Well, at my age, it’s my last hurrah,” Crawford said.
If that’s true, it is quite a way to go out.
Crawford, of Coraopolis, was awarded the Legion of Honor this morning for his part in liberating France during World War II.
“I came through the war unscathed. I never had any injuries. Some of our guys got hurt and stuff like that so I accept it for all of those fellows not just for me,” Crawford said.
It almost didn’t happen.
Over the weekend, thieves broke into the French consul’s home in Pittsburgh and stole a safe from the third floor. It contained the medal. Somehow, he secured a replacement medal for Crawford.
“The history of the continent, the history of France would have been very different if the Americans had not helped our country during World War II,” Jean-Dominique Le Garrec said.
Crawford accepted with the humility we’ve come to expect from the greatest generation.
“It probably means more than all the other ones combined because all the other ones I got for individual actions, you know? But this one here, I accepted for all my shipmates that really contributed in some cases much more than me,” Crawford said.
The French consul has a personal connection as his father was an artillery man who was captured by the Germans at the start of the war.
“He was liberated by the Americans when you guys came to liberate France and Europe, including my father. So, it’s very emotional as you may imagine,” Le Garrec said.