Actor Charles 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. He will receive France's highest honor, the National Order of the Legion of Honor, in a ceremony tonight at the French government's residence in Beverly Hills. From the official 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.
His significant honors include Academy Award Best Supporting Actor Nominations in 1982 and 1983, six 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 January 2008 he was honored with the Screen Actors Guild Lifetime Achievement Award.