Veteran receives Purple Heart sixty years after service

08/18/06 12:00AM By Lynne McCrea
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(Host) A Vermont veteran was presented with the Purple Heart today, more than 60 years after his service in the Navy during World War II.

VPR's Lynne McCrea has more.

(McCrea) Bob Blondin was a Gunner's Mate on the USS Luce, which was off the coast of Japan when it was attacked and sunk by Japanese planes in May of 1945.

(Blondin) "I was blown into the water when the ship exploded. I had been sprayed with shrapnel. And as far as I know I was the last one to be picked up. And, everyone on that ship they picked me up on had body tags on. And I was the only one alive in the group."

(McCrea) After being rescued, Blondin was transported to a hospital ship in a harbor in Okinawa. He says it was bustling with medical personnel treating injured G.I.'s. His focus was on getting home, not on the possibility of a Purple Heart.

(Blondin) " Of course they got mixed up with their paperwork- they had all new Doctors and nurses all spread around. So I never tried to do anything about it. I wanted to get home like every other GI who had been through the war. I was anxious to get home."

(McCrea) Eighty-three-year-old Blondin is a native of Winooski. He says he only recently asked if he was eligible for the Purple Heart, because he wanted to have it for his children and grandchildren. And while he says he's very proud of the honor, it will always be a difficult day for him to remember.

(Blondin) "A lot of people died that day. All the heroes died that day "

(McCrea) Bob Blondin was presented with the Purple Heart by Senator Patrick Leahy, at the VFW Post in Winooski.

For VPR news, I'm Lynne McCrea
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