Portrait of An American Hero

At the fourth of July parade in Millville, Pa., Arthur Albertson, an 85-year-old war veteran, is the Grand Marshal.

"I don't believe I have any real duties to do. I'm just going to ride around and enjoy everything," Albertson said.

"Be glad it's the fourth of July and just be thankful for everything I've got, and everything we've all got."

The reason why Albertson's hometown chose to honor him begins during the World War II.

"I went through the war from Normandy, clear through to central Berlin to the Elbe River to Magdeburg, where we met the Russians," he said. "And in between it was rough."

At 19, Albertson landed on Utah Beach during the historic invasion of Normandy. Over the next 10 months, he marched through Belgium, Holland and Germany as part of a reconnaissance team in the Army's 30th Infantry division.

While he was on patrol behind enemy lines he jumped into a foxhole, where he was shot by a German soldier. He managed to make it back to the allied forces and was awarded the Purple Heart.

"It's big game, but a final game for so many," said Albertson. "But I was lucky to get through."

In a 1945 letter home, Albertson proudly told his parents that he received the Bronze Star from the 9th Army general. "There were three boys decorated from the 30th Division," he wrote. "One was dead, the other's legs shot off, and me."

"Mom you can imagine how I felt. I was so tickled and happy when all the troops in the field stood there at attention and the stars and stripes waving and me talking to the general. I was proud and it was probably the happiest moment of my life."

Arthur thanked his parents for their love and support.

"I am sending the bronze star medal, Mom," he wrote. "You and Dad can have it. I certainly owe you a lot and maybe some day I can help you out. I'll never be able to do for you what you have done for me."

The letter was published in a Bloomsburg, Pa., newspaper in 1945, offering Americans a glimpse of what soldiers like Arthur were thinking.

To read the full letter that Arthur Albertson wrote to his parents in 1945, CLICK HERE.

"Nothing will make me any more happy than when I get back there on good old Walnut Street with the family, having those good times all over again," he said. "There never will be a place nicer."

After the war, Arthur returned to small-town Pennsylvania to live his American dream. He married his sweetheart Millie, raised a family and ran a filling station alongside his three brothers.

It has been 64 years since he landed on the beach in Normandy, but Albertson has not forgotten what he saw. Today, he remains connected to the armed forces, as a chaplain for the Millville American Legion, having presided at more than 500 veterans' funerals.

"They're doing a great job and we're just fortunate and lucky to have such good men and women defending our country around the world," he said.

His gratitude and appreciation for those in uniform is a tribute to this own heroism and bravery. Millville is fortunate to have such an honorable Grand Marshal for their parade.

"It's Independence day and it's a celebration day," he said. "It's a day to be thankful for what we have."

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