A 96-year-old World War II veteran, who has been hailed a hero for taking part in the Normandy landings during World War II, admitted that he was never there and was actually in northern Ireland at the time, according to D-Day Overlord.
George Klein was hailed a hero at a ceremony for the 73rd anniversary of the Normandy landings. He was honored as one of the surviving members of the 2nd Ranger Battalion tasked with storming the beaches of Normandy between Omaha and Utah beaches on June 6, 1944.
Klein told stories of how he climbed the French cliffs and was wounded later on in the day by a German bayonet before waiting two days to be evacuated to England. He was awarded a Bronze star and a Purple Heart in the United States and the Legion of Honour in France.
Klein celebrated the 73rd anniversary of the landings by going to Europe, thanks to dozens of donors who helped raise $5,000 for his travel costs.
Several historians, including Marty Morgan and Gary Sterne, found that Klein was not part of the D-Day landings, but was instead in northern Ireland with the B Battery of the 46th Field Artillery Battalion, 5th Infantry Division.
“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 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.”
For more than two decades, Klein claimed to be an officer with F Company of the 2nd Ranger Battalion and justified his absence on the list of 225 Rangers who actually participated in the assault of the battery of Pointe du Hoc by saying that he was “a ‘supernumerary’ lieutenant, whose duty is to immediately replace a platoon leader unable to continue his mission.”
“His story had every reason to be plausible: with a (real) experience in the Rangers’ unit, the artilleryman had broke his ankle during a climbing training during the year 1943 and had to give up any hope of remaining in this elite unit,” Laurencea wrote. “Back in his artillery regiment, he accepts this failure with difficulty.”
Laurenceau noted that Klein “should not be ashamed of his real contribution” to liberating Europe during World War II because he “deployed from 26 July 1944 to 23 July 1945 with the 46th Field Artillery Battalion” and “was seriously wounded in combat in the Moselle region on 17 November 1944.”
“Trapped into a lie that shaped him in the eyes of his entourage and from which he could no longer escape, he finally resolved to tell the truth to his family, his relatives and the organizations that supported him for several years,” Laurenceau wrote.