Claremore Daily Progress

Community News

April 13, 2014

WWII veteran Filkins awarded 3 medals on his 90th birthday

CLAREMORE —

So many men and women who served our country have earned medals they never received or eventually receive later in life.  It is not uncommon for war veterans to receive honors for their contribution to serving our country, even if it is 68 years later. 
Helen Sundgren, a former Claremore resident, seeks those who did not receive honors by doing extensive research.  That is how she came across Larry Filkins.  She submitted the appropriate documentation needed in order to honor Filkins and ensure he received the medals and awards he earned.  The honors and birthday celebration was held at the Claremore Veterans Center.  Shelia Collier, Assistant Administrator for the center coordinated efforts with the Veterans of Foreign Wars.
Filkins was a sergeant and a combat medic during WWII.  He landed on Omaha Beach three weeks after D-Day and participated, endured and survived the greatest land battle known as the Battle of the Bulge from December 16, 1944 to January 25, 1945; thereafter,  he pressed on to Germany.   
“I never carried a rifle.  I was unarmed following all military groups into combat, taking care of the injured.   I recall a terrible, terrible time during wintery weather and could not get to the troops because of all of the snow.  There was no place to eat or sleep.  We could not bring in food.  It was just terrible,” he said.  
Filkins was 19 when he was drafted and spent two years, 11 months and five days in the 1st Army 3rd Armored Division.  
“Then there was the time that I got injured.  I had just taken care of one of the guys and the Germans began bombing,” Filkins said.  “The only shelter was a house nearby.  When the shell went off outside the blast cut right into my arm.  The way I was positioned saved my life or it would have sliced me in half.”

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