France awards Legion of Honor medal to ABQ resident, World War II veteran

France awards Legion of Honor medal to ABQ resident, World War II veteran

World War II veteran John Rumancik displays his French Legion of Honor medal and a photo of his B-24 Liberator crew. Rumancik received the Legion of Honor medal earlier this year. He flew eight combat missions over Germany, France and Austria in 1944-45. He is the last living member of his plane’s crew. (Adolphe Pierre-Louis/Albuquerque Journal) Copyright © 2019 Albuquerque Journal The young boys who didn’t come back are the real heroes of World War II. That’s how Albuquerque resident John Rumancik feels about his service in the effort to liberate Europe from Nazi Germany’s grip more than seven decades ago. But the French government believes Rumancik and other American soldiers who did come back are heroes for their roles in the war effort. The 94-year-old former tail gunner was honored earlier this year with France’s Legion of Honor medal, an award that was first created by French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte in 1802. Rumancik flew eight missions as a staff sergeant with the 8th Air Force 392nd Bomber Group’s 576th Squad. And he found out just how dangerous it was to be a member of a flight crew shortly after enlisting in the U.S. Army Air Forces at the age of 18 in 1943. World War II veteran John Rumancik enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Forces in 1943 at the age of 18. (Courtesy of John Rumancik) He had hopes of becoming a pilot and was looking forward to aviation cadet pilot training. “Due to extreme bomber losses by German planes and flak (anti-aircraft fire), our pilot training was canceled and we were assigned as gunners and engineers,” Rumancik said. Rumancik, who grew up near Pittsburgh, found himself selected as a tail gunner on a B-24 Liberator bomber. After taking basic training in Biloxi, Mississippi, and gunnery training […]

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