A Purple Heart long overdue was awarded Friday to Elbert Lindley.
It was plain to see that Elbert Lindley was overwhelmed by the attention and with the award he has been waiting 62 years to receive.
Lindley’s presentation was made by Colonel Timothy Ray, the 7th Bomb Wing Commander, Dyess AFB, for wounds received in combat action as the top turret gunner in a B-24 aircraft, over Marcus Island on May 11, 1945.
“As a kid I always admired the World War II aviators so this is a dream come true,” Ray said. “This is an honor of a lifetime to be able to present such a distinguished decoration on an American hero.
“These aviators were the first of their kind,” Ray said. “They proved a theory that was very controversial back then - that air power was very effective.”
House Conference Secretary John Carter attended the ceremony and presented Lindley with a plaque containing remarks the congressman entered into the official Congressional Record in his honor.
Remarks were also read from a prepared statement from Gov. Rick Perry.
More than 140 people attended the ceremony, but perhaps none were more welcomed by Lindley and the crowd than two of his “Cowbird” crewmembers, Donald Weaver, tail gunner, and Charles Milliorn, flight engineer.
Both journeyed for miles to attend. Weaver traveled from Denver, Penn., and Milliorn came all the way from Tucson, Ariz.
The three men are the last known surviving members of the 10-man crew known as “Kelly’s Kobras.”
The men said they formed an unbreakable bond during their service years that has lasted for decades.
“When you’re on a crew like that you’re only as strong as the weakest man on the crew,” Milliorn said. “We depended on each other.”
At the close of the ceremony Lindley tearfully told of his struggles in getting the Purple Heart he earned so long ago and thanked all those in attendance.