June 11, 2012

Navy veteran recognized 68 years later

by PO3 Carla Ocampo
San Diego, Calif.

Retired Hospital Apprentice 1st Class Frank H. Walden answers questions from local media about his actions on D-Day. Walden, from Walnut Creek, Calif., was awarded the Bronze Star at a change of command for Beachmaster Unit 1 at Naval Base Coronado, Calif., on the 68th anniversary of the largest amphibious assault in naval history.

A sailor was presented with a Bronze Star and a U.S. Army Combat Medical Badge he earned more than 68 years ago, June 6.

Retired Hospital Apprentice 1st Class Frank H. Walden, 86, was recognized for his actions during Operation Overlord the Allied invasion of Normandy, France. Cmdr. Erik Nilsson, commanding officer of Beachmaster Unit 1, presented the awards on the 68th anniversary of D-Day during a change of command ceremony.

“We have this great life because of the sacrifices of you and your brothers and sisters,” Nilsson said of Walden. “I’m proud of this unit for recognizing the 6th Naval Beach Battalion.”

Earlier this year Ken Davey, son of the Navy lieutenant who led the medical attachment, inquired about the eligibility of 6th Naval Beach Battalion medical personnel to receive a U.S. Army Combat Medical Badge. The U.S. Army awards board confirmed the eligibility of 84 veterans or their next-of-kin to receive these awards, and in addition awarded them a Bronze Star. Walden was among those veterans.

Walden said he felt that only those who survived the battle were being recognized with awards, but was happy to find out that even the family members of those who passed will be awarded.

“They are the true heroes,” said Walden. “We’re here and they’re not.”

Walden was 18 years old when he was assigned to the Easy Red sector of Omaha Beach where he assisted wounded Soldiers of the 1st Infantry Division. He was only there for one day before he was wounded, but he says that was enough.

“They called it Easy Red,” said Walden. “It wasn’t easy, but it sure was red.”

Walden said that receiving an award 68 years later can only be described as “awesome.” The ceremony was not only a special moment for Walden, but for the sailors who had the opportunity to witness it as well.

“It is a privilege to be here,” said Yeoman 2nd Class Fernando Ramirez, assigned to BMU 1. “It is great that he is being recognized after all these years. After all, they gave us what we have today.”

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