A decorated World War II veteran lauded as a hero for his role in one of D-Day’s most daring missions has confessed he was not actually present on the cliffs of Normandy, according to a French nonprofit.
In the decades after the battle at the Pointe du Hoc on June 6, 1944, Glen G. Klein told stories of how he climbed 100-foot cliffs as a member of the elite 2nd Ranger Battalion tasked with taking out enemy artillery positions and securing the Normandy coast — between the Omaha and Utah beaches. He said he was wounded late in the day and waited two days before he was evacuated from the battlefield, according to the Telegraph.
The 96-year-old veteran was handed a Purple Heart and Bronze Star for his service and was treated as “one of the great celebrities” during a ceremony last month for the 73rd Anniversary of the Normandy battle.
Alongside 90 other surviving members of the elite battalion, Klein made his way to Europe for the celebration, thanks to “dozens of donors” who raised $ 5,000 to cover his travel costs. The fundraising effort was spear-headed by D-Day Overlord, a French organization dedicated to commemorating the battle, French media reported.
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“But only weeks after his return to the United States, the extraordinary news is made public: George Klein is not the one he claims to be,” D-Day Overlord founder Marc Laurenceau wrote on the organization’s website. “On June 6, 1944 the American veteran was not among the 2nd Battalion to attack the cliffs of Pointe du Hoc, this formidable German artillery position threatening landing beaches.”
Rather, he was in Northern Ireland with the B Battery of his artillery regiment. Klein in 1943 had “broken his ankle and had to give up any hope of remaining in the elite unit,” according to Laurenceau.
He reportedly made the confession to his family after several historians made the discovery on their own.
Klein has long explained away his absence from the listed 225 rangers who took part in the efforts by claiming to be a “supernumerary” lieutenant, “whose duty is to immediately replace a platoon leader unable to continue his mission.”
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Despite his alleged dishonesty, Laurenceau offered his support to Klein.
“George Klein should not be ashamed of his real contribution to the liberation of Europe during the second World War,” he wrote, noting he was deployed with the 46th field Artillery Batallion and was wounded during combat in the Moselle region of France in 1944.
Klein was not immediately available for comment Wednesday.
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