Richard Faulkner was only 19 years old when Nazis shot down his plane 70 years ago. Now age 89, the World War II veteran has been awarded a Purple Heart.

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Fox News’ Laura Ingle reported that Faulkner received the award in Auburn, New York over the weekend.

Nazi soldiers shot down his B-17 bomber unit in German-occupied France in 1944. Three planes went down that day, 17 people were killed and 12 were taken prisoner, Faulkner told Fox News. He was the only one to escape.

Faulkner’s daughter, Ann Pennell said that after surviving the crash, her dad had to wait until the Nazis stopped searching for him. A farmer helped him start through the French underground.

Faulkner refused the Purple Heart decades ago, saying he didn’t feel worthy of the honor. He told Fox News that he decided to accept it after his family members encouraged him to do so. “There’s a lot of other people that should be honored that weren’t.” 

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