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WWII hero finally gets Bronze Star

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A German-born U.S. soldier received his Bronze Star 63 years after his military service.

Hans Spear of Tucson, Ariz., was presented the medal for bravery in a ceremony Wednesday at Fort Huachuca in Arizona by Maj. Gen. John Custer, the fort’s commander.

The U.S. Army had put in a high recommendation for Spear to receive the medal, but he and another Jewish soldier in his 30th Infantry Division unit were passed over.

Spear and his family had fled Nazi Germany in 1938. Spear returned to Europe 10 days after D-Day in 1944 and fought the German army in France, Belgium and Germany.

Fluent in German, he was indispensable in communicating with captured German soldiers. Like many other European-born soldiers, he was assigned to counterintelligence. But he also suffered discrimination in the Army as a so-called enemy alien.

Spear’s executive officer wrote in his recommendation in June 1945 that while Spear is a native of Germany,” his loyalty to the United States cannot be doubted.”

Custer said it was about time history was corrected to reflect the heroism of Spear and others, the Herald newspaper of Sierra Vista reported.

Spear’s wife of 68 years, Bea, told her husband after the ceremony, “You’ve waited a long time for this.”

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