CENTERVILLE, Ohio (WDTN) – It took 70 years but a Centerville veteran is getting recognition as a liberator by those he help liberate.
Paul “Bud” Hawthorne was just 18-years-old when he was deployed to Normandy to help turn the tide of World War II in Europe. Across the world, it has become known as D-Day.
In a small gathering space at St. Leonard in Centerville, Hawthorne was given a Commemorative Badge by France for his service during the war.
“I’m really overwhelmed that they would think of me,” said Hawthorne.
As a teenager entering a war that had been going on for years, Hawthorne was parachuted in to Normandy to help storm the beach. From there, he would be deployed to Belgium to fight in the Battle of the Bulge. When the war came to an end, Hawthorne was part of a special unit freeing prisoners held in concentration camps.
Hawthorne hoped he could make it to commemoration ceremony in France to mark the 70th anniversary of D-Day.
“Since I was physically unable to go, I sort of abandoned the whole idea it would come to me,” said Hawthorne.
The Centerville ceremony was made possible by friends, state leaders, and help from France to honor Hawthorne. Centerville Mayor Mark Kingseed offered some remarks. Gov. John Kasich and Rep. Mike Turner also wrote letters to Hawthorne commemorating the day.
Hawthorne retired from the military as a Staff Sergeant.