PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — He was a fine soldier regarding the circumstances, loss and his heroic service to his country.

The waves lapping the shores of Normandy ran red on D-Day in June of 1944.

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Terrible moments in time crystallized in the memory of Navy Master Chief Petty Officer Albert Crawford.

“You could see ships as far as you looked,” he said. “No matter whether you looked north, east, south or west.”

Sitting in his living room this Memorial Day, 88-year-old Crawford is looking forward to receiving France’s highest military decoration – the “Legion of Honor” medal at a ceremony Tuesday.

“I appreciate the medal and the thoughtfulness of the French government,” Crawford said.

At age 19, Crawford was serving on board the U.S.S. Swivel towing a barge loaded with bombs off Omaha Beach.

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But Crawford’s special nod from the French was nearly detoured.

Last Friday, burglars broke a window and stole a large safe from the office the Honorary French Consul, Jean-Dominique Le Garrec at his home in Squirrel Hill. There are drag marks on the floor.

Inside the stolen safe were government papers, passports and Crawford’s medal.

“Suddenly I realized that I would probably not be able to perform this event,” Le Garrec said.

But after a bit of scrambling over the weekend and the help of his predecessor Le Garrec had another medal for Crawford.

Crawford is humbled by the decoration, but he knows that the real honor was to serve with brave men who were his shipmates.

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