A first generation United States citizen and World War II veteran received an honor all the way from Norway, 70 years after fighting.
Trygve Petersen fought with an infantry division known as the "Viking Battalion."
"Trygve Petersen has participated in the defense of Norway, thanks you for your contribution and the fight for freedom," said Capt. Yngve Skoglund, sr. national representative of Norway at NATO Headquarters at a ceremony Thursday.
It was a hero's celebration at the American Legion Post 338 in Southwick.
But don't say that to 95-year-old Petersen.
"I wish the men of my battalion were here," he said when receiving the award.
The ceremony was an emotional one for Petersen.
Everyone around him says he would never consider himself a hero, and more often spends his time thinking about those killed 70 years ago.
Thursday a contingent with the Royal Norwegian Air force traveled from NATO headquarters in Virginia to bestow the Norwegian World War II Participant Medal, an honor fewer than two dozen can call their own.
"Such a sharp, strong character. Trygve is straightforward, tells exactly what he remembers, the good part and bad part of the second world war," Skoglund said.
Petersen was a part of the 99th Battalion, also known as the Viking Battalion, made up of first generation Americans of Norwegian, Finnish and Swedish descent.
They were meant to travel to Nazi-occupied Norway. Instead they would storm Omaha Beach just two days after D-Day.
Petersen was evacuated from Europe after a concussion destroyed much of his hearing.
He left the service decorated with medals including the Bronze Star.
"He remembers it, he's strong, he has his wit and he has his wisdom to share it with us," Skoglund said.
Even as the medal was being pinned on Petersen's World War II uniform, he could only think of those that never returned home from war.
"God bless the men that are lost," he said.
Copyright 2014 WSHM (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.
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