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WWII Veteran Paulson Receives Award After 68 Years
by U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Miriam Espinoza-Torres - November 9, 2013

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WESTPORT Wash. – Serving during World War II is a remarkable achievement. Receiving an award for service 68 years later is another.

For Martin L. Paulson, a WWII veteran, who fought in the assault and capture of Okinawa, Japan, in 1945, serving in some of the most dangerous areas in WWII and years later, receiving an award for his service in an experience he'll never forget.

Col. Lynda Granfield, civil affairs officer, I Corps, presents Martin L. Paulson, World War II veteran, with an Army Bronze Star Medal during an award Ceremony on August 30, 2013 at the Westport, Wash., chapter of the Veterans of Foreign Wars. The award was presented to Paulson for his actions while assigned to 105th Infantry Regiment, 27th Infantry Division, in support of the assault and capture of Okinawa, Japan on April 13, 1945. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Miriam Espinoza-Torres, 5th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment)
Col. Lynda Granfield, civil affairs officer, I Corps, presents Martin L. Paulson, World War II veteran, with an Army Bronze Star Medal during an award Ceremony on August 30, 2013 at the Westport, Wash., chapter of the Veterans of Foreign Wars. The award was presented to Paulson for his actions while assigned to 105th Infantry Regiment, 27th Infantry Division, in support of the assault and capture of Okinawa, Japan on April 13, 1945. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Miriam Espinoza-Torres, 5th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment)

Martin L. Paulson served in the U.S. Army from 1943-1946 with D Company, 105th Infantry Regiment, 27th Infantry Division. In 1945 he boarded the USS Cecil and headed to Okinawa, Japan.

While in Okinawa he wrote over 90 letters to his sister, Ruth Paulson, telling her about his everyday life while deployed.

When Martin's sister died, she gave his letters to her son's wife, Gail L. Furford so she could give them to her grandson when he was old enough to understand their meaning. After nearly 20 years of moving around, Furford came across the letters which she had saved in a small shoebox. She began reading them and to her surprise, they told an amazing story of a young Paulson fighting for his country during World War II and also discovered information she believed entitled him to a Purple Heart.

In one letter, Martin mentioned being hurt in an accident. He didn't elaborate on his injuries because he didn't want to worry his family. Subsequently, Martin went back to Fort Lewis, Wash., to receive care for his injuries at the Madigan Army Medical Center.

She sent supporting documentation about the battle and the letter to the Department of Defense believing Paulson deserved a Purple Heart. Instead the department awarded him with the Bronze Star Medal for his heroic actions during the battle.

Sixty-eight years later, Paulson received the Bronze Start Medal in August at the Westport Washington Chapter of the Veterans of Foreign Wars. He received his award in front of family and friends.

Furford wanted to present the award to Paulson herself, but felt it was more appropriate for an Army officer to present it. She reached out to Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., for assistance. I Corps responded by providing a colonel and a color guard for the ceremony.

Col. Lynda Granfield, civil affairs officer, I Corps, had the honor of presenting Paulson with the Bronze Star Medal and the Foreign Occupation Medal for his service during WWII.

“Whether you wear the uniform today or wore it decades ago, you remind us of a fundamental truth,” Granfield said, quoting President Barack Obama. “It's not the powerful weapons that make our military the strongest in the world, it's not the sophisticated systems that makes us the most advanced, the true strength of our military lies in the spirits and skill of all our men and women and those who've served before us.”

Paulson, now 95 years old, was grateful for the award. “I'm very humbled; I figure a lot of the other guys I served with deserve one too.” He fondly recalls his time in service and says he keeps the soldiers, currently fighting in the Middle East, in his thoughts.

Paulson's story inspired Furford to write a book about his experience during the assault and capture of Okinawa, Japan. She is currently working on the final chapter with the hope it will be published at the end of the year. 

By U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Miriam Espinoza-Torres
Provided through DVIDS
Copyright 2013

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