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WWII Veteran Receives Honors 70 Years Later

By Jeffrey Hess | Published 08 Aug 2013 05:28am | comments
Photo courtesy of Jeffrey Hess/MPB News

After nearly 70 years, an African-American Mississippi soldier is getting the medals he earned fighting in World War II.  

Richard Paynes, 92,  was part of the resupply mission that helped invade Germany.

"And then the last medal we are going to put on here is the World War Two victory Medal. You are getting an awful lot of hardware here today,"

 Adj. General of the Mississippi National Guard Augustus Collins pins a series of medals and badges onto the chest of 92-year old Richard Paynes.

 Paynes never received the medals he earned as part of 'operation red ball' which rushed supplies to the front lines of the invasion of Germany.

 Paynes, who is African-American, says it has taken a while but the honor makes him proud.

 "At that time the blacks didn't care to much about it. All we wanted was to get back home. I am telling the truth. But I appreciate it. 70 years I waited, but I feel fine," Paynes said.

 75% of the drivers in Paynes' operation were Black.

 His 80 year old wife Martha believes his race played a large part in him never receiving his medals.

 "We tried everybody. All the way down from Kennedy to every president there is. Tried to get the medals and no body every recognized him. (Why do you think that is?) Your really want me to say? Race. They didn't care. No body cared," Panyes said.

 Paynes is only now receiving his medal because his fellow veteran, Richard Lambert learned about his situation during a conversation at the VFW and alerted the military.

 "There is a lot of World War Two vets and Korean vets that did not get their shine. We are losing about 7,000 a month based on the statistics. And that's history right here," Lambert said.

 There are an estimated  one million World War II veterans still alive, including 11,000 in Mississippi.

 The US government projects that the final World War II veteran will die by 2036.




Photo courtesy of Jeffrey Hess/MPB News



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