Local WWII Bomber Pilot Receives High Honor on D-Day

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MASON - Veterans marked the anniversary of D-Day Friday, a day that marked the beginning of the end of World War II in Europe. For one veteran in Mason the anniversary was made extra special not only by his community, but from the government in France. At a ceremony at the First Presbyterian Church in Mason, Lutz was given the French Legion of Honor medal for flying over 60 bombing missions over Europe during the war. The Foreign Legion of Honor is the French government's highest award to a non-citizen.

Retired Lieutenant Colonel Ernie Lutz reflected on a day that will live on his memory forever, when thousands of Allied troops stormed the beaches of France. "Oh that was an interesting day. Started very early in the morning. We were forewarned in the evening it might happen. It was an amazing site how many boats and ships and landing crafts were crossing the channel, headed for Normandy. It was like I-96 to Detroit on a busy Saturday afternoon, just full."

Lutz says flying combat missisons was like going to work. "I don't feel like a hero. I did my job, and I did it the best I could."

"For anyone to fly 65 missions and survive is a feat in itself," said Bruce Anderson, the commander of American Legion Post 148 in Mason. "Ernie came home to instruct other pilots, so he's a genuine hero."

The 93-year-old Lutz still flies to this day. He takes to the skies every D-Day to honor the pilots who never made it home. "It's just a reminder of what did occur on D-Day. This is the 18th year I've done it., and I have a son that flies an airplane. He was on my wing, so a two-ship formation this morning."

Lutz says joining the military was something he wanted to do. He is the last survivor of the six-man crew who went up in the air that day. Three were killed during the war.

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