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Lakewood aviator shot down during World War II named ‘Hero of the Month’ for May

Serving Those Who Serve

LAKEWOOD, Colo. (KDVR) — He earned a Silver Star 77 years ago for his heroism in World War II. And while he’s never actually been given that award, Armand Sedgeley is receiving some long-overdue recognition: he’s been named the FOX31 Serving Those Who Serve Hero of the Month for May 2021.

Sedgeley was surprised to see our news cameras earlier this month when we presented him with a plaque and a $500 Visa gift card as a thank you for his service all those years ago.

The 99-year-old veteran is no stranger to surprises. He nearly died when German fighter pilots snuck up on his plane during a bombing run off the coast of Italy on Feb. 14, 1944.

Sedgeley was part of the crew on a B-17 “Flying Fortress” when the attack happened. Enemy planes took aim at the tail gunner on his plane because they could tell his weapons weren’t working.

“His guns wouldn’t fire because they were frozen. They never did fire,” Sedgeley told FOX31.
“They shot and killed of course the tail gunner, one waist gunner, the other waist gunner died within a day or two afterward, he was very badly wounded,” Sedgeley added.

Their crew’s radio operator died, too. Sedgeley ripped into the German plane with his own .50 caliber gun and shot the enemy aircraft from the sky. But his own crippled plane couldn’t make it back to their base 400 miles away. So they had to ditch in the Mediterranean, just off the island of Corsica. Somehow, Sedgeley made it out alive. But folks back home thought he was a goner.

“My mother received a wire indicating I was missing in action, so she assumed that I was a prisoner or dead one or the other,” Sedgeley said.

You can imagine her surprise when he showed up back home a few months later. 

To this day, there is a plaque on the shore of Corsica honoring Sedgeley and his crew for their Valentine’s Day flight, But while all the other survivors of the crash received the Silver Star – one of the military’s highest honors for valor in combat – Armand’s paperwork hit a snag somewhere along the way. Despite the best efforts of friends and family to claim the honor he’s due, the Pentagon still hasn’t issued the award.

Loved ones hoped to have the Silver Star to Sedgeley by his 100th birthday this October, but that’s looking less and less certain.

In the meantime, it’s our honor to pay tribute to him as our Hero of the Month. 

Hero of the Month is part of FOX31’s Serving Those Who Serve initiative sponsored by your local Ford dealer, and the Leo Hill Charitable Trust. To nominate a veteran, active duty service member, military family member or volunteer for Hero of the Month, visit the nomination page.

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