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World War II vet receives Purple Heart 70 years later

World War II vet receives Purple Heart 70 years later

SPOKANE VALLEY, Wash. - A Spokane World War II veteran shot in combat received his Purple Heart almost 70 years after the battle in which he earned it.

It's been a long time coming for 90 year old Lloyd Phillips.

And by all accounts it's an incredible story that starts with Phillips almost missing the boat to battle.

"When we got to Camp to ship over, in New York, I came down with appendicitis, scarlet fever, and measles. So I missed the boat. But I caught the next boat with the 574", says Phillips.

Fast forward to April 1945. Phillips' Army unit was on a convoy in Germany when they were ambushed.

"And they shot Rose, my partner, and they shot our gunner, and I couldn't get him out of the turret of the gun."

Taking fire, Phillips ran toward a building where he saw American GIs. That's when he was shot. Twice.

"I was holding my rifle at port arms. The bullet hit the rifle and ricocheted up through my helmet. The other bullet went on the side of my cheek and the bottom of my ear... it went all through my arms."

Cut and bleeding, Phillips made it inside only to find the GIs were P.O.W.s under German guard.

"I got in there, and they were prisoners. I didn't know that. So I opened up the door and he hollers (GERMAN) but I never slowed down. I took the butt of my gun and knocked the rifle out of his hand. And hit him a time or two with it."

Phillips continued fighting for two more hours. Throwing grenades into second story buildings. When the fighting stopped he went to look for his friend.

"I knew he was hurt pretty bad. Finally found him, dragged him in, and had a medic set up close to him."

It wasn't until then that Phillips received his own medical attention.

"They gave me a blood transfusion, and the next morning they came over and they said 'are you able to go?' And I said 'I think so.' So they assigned me out, and I was on my way. "

Army records show Phillips was awarded the Purple Heart for his role in the battle of Ruhr Pocket, except he never got it. Until now, thanks to the diligent work of a few friends.

"I feel pretty lucky. Pretty fortunate. I turned 90 three months ago. So I don't know how long I'll get to wear it, but I'll get to wear it a while."

The Purple Heart awarded to a man just as much a hero today as he was almost 69 years ago on April 12 1945.