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France says Viva Charles Durning, actor and war hero

By Stone Martindale Apr 23, 2008, 9:50 GMT

France says Viva Charles Durning, actor and war hero

US actor Charles Durning holds his Life Achievement Award during the 14th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at the Shrine Exposition Center in Los Angeles, California, USA, 27 January 2008. EPA/PAUL BUCK

Actor Charles Durning, you know him, and you love him as Denis Leary's tortured dad in "Rescue Me" and about a hundred great TV shows and movies. 

In recent years, Mr. Durning worked with the Coen Brothers who cast him as Pappy O'Daniel in, "O Brother Where Art Thou."

His honors include Academy Award Best Supporting Actor Nominations in 1982 and 1983, eight Emmy Award Nominations, a Tony Award win in 1991 in the Best Actor-Play category, and 4 Golden Globe Nominations including a win in 1991 for Best Supporting Actor. In 2008 Mr. Durning was presented with the Screen Actors Guild prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award.

Add this to his amazing list of career accomplishments: He is a venerated World War II war hero, and France has honored him in a special ceremony celebrating his heroic efforts.

Durning landed on Normandy's Omaha Beach as a 17-year-old Army Ranger in June 1944. Before leaving Europe, he was wounded three times and awarded three Purple Hearts and a Silver Star.

France's highest honor, the National Order of the Legion of Honor, was given to him in a ceremony at the French government's official residence in Beverly Hills.

From the release:

In late June 1944, Charles was seriously wounded by a mine at Les Mare des Mares, France and spent almost 6 months recovering. When the German Ardennes offensive broke out in December 1944, he was rushed to the front lines and suffered severe bayonet wounds in hand to hand combat.

On December 16th his unit was overrun and captured in Belgium by an SS Panzer Unit that was taking no prisoners. PFC Durning was one of only a few soldiers to escape and survive the subsequent notorious Malmedy massacre. With the 398th Infantry Regiment he moved into Germany where he was again seriously wounded in March 1945 and evacuated to the United States where he was discharged in January 1946.

 



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