By Frank Williams Jr.

Junior Howell finally received his Purple Heart medal this week, exactly 72 years after he was wounded in World War II. Over 100 friends, family, and even strangers turned out to see his long-overdue award.

Howell was injured on September 21, 1944, when he was 19, in a battle with Japanese troops on Peleliu Island. The National Museum of the Marine Corps calls Peleliu “the bitterest battle of the war for the Marines.”

“It’s the end of World War II for me,” the 91-year-old Marine tells reporters after a Marine unit pinned the medal on his suit jacket. “I am happy to have served in the Marines, but it was a bad time. The only good day I had was when I got out.” He adds, “ … everything turned out fine. I had a good life.”

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