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World War II vets will be honored

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STAR LAKE — So many stories, so little time left to learn them.

The Clifton-Fine community will make an effort Saturday to hear some of the stories of its surviving World War II veterans, including Robert J. Noody, who is about to be awarded the French Legion of Honor and who was featured in an iconic D-Day photograph.

“It’s all about the veterans,” said Joseph D. DeMart, an event organizer in conjunction with Clifton-Fine Economic Development Corp., Clifton-Fine Central School and author Matthew J. Glavin.

Mr. DeMart, a volunteer who drives veterans to the Veterans Affairs Hospital in Syracuse, thought it important to recognize surviving military members from World War II and to involve the school.

“To be part of a very solemn ceremony will help them understand,” Clifton-Fine School Superintendent Regina C. Yeo said.

The 2 p.m. service in the school auditorium, with participation from seventh- to 12th-graders, also has personal meaning for Mrs. Yeo as her son, Gene E., served two tours in Iraq.

As part of the event, Mr. Glavin, author of several books, interviewed each of the community’s 11 surviving veterans who are in their 90s and wrote up profiles on Edmund DeCora, Horace Foster, James Glavin, Fred Hall, Betty Johns, Grant Kerr, Hank Moshano, Robert Noody, Harold Pickering, Amos Reil and Gordon Taylor.

All of them have stories.

Mr. Foster was wounded twice in one day while fighting in Germany. Mr. Glavin was with troops who took command of a warehouse full of a Japanese whisky, half of which they learned was “doped” to give kamikaze pilots courage to complete their suicide missions.

Ms. Johns joined the Civil Air Patrol in 1941 but it would not let her fly. She joined the Marine Corps in 1944, but it would not let her fly either. She learned how to fly at an air college after leaving the Marine Corps.

Mr. Moshano reconnected several years after the war with a soldier he had seen jumping out of a tank with one arm blown off, who he presumed dead.

Mr. Noody became the face of D-Day in a widely circulated photograph that shows him weighed down with gear aboard his C-47 June 5, 1944.

Mr. Noody, the recipient of two Bronze Stars and two Purple Hearts, rarely talked about the war after his discharge.

The only thing his wife knew about his war experience was that he had been in the paratroopers until he was interviewed by Terry Poyser, co-author of a book on the Fighting Fox Company, part of the 101st Airborne. E Company of that regiment gained renown as the Band of Brothers, as depicted in book and film.

“We fought right along side of them,” Mr. Noody said. “We were always telling them we did all the work and they got all the credit, but that’s not true.”

Mr. Noody has gone to the annual anniversary of D-Day and the Battle of Normandy in recent years and believes the connections he made there led to his Legion of Honor award this year. The award for U.S. veterans is for those who risked their lives during World War II to fight on French territory.

“I think it was nice of them,” he said. “I’m going to pin it on my jacket. I have no idea even what it looks like.”

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