World War II medal awarded after 70 years
Zane Gemmill completed 50 combat missions
Last Updated: 47 days ago
EL CAJON - It took 70 years, but the Distinguished Flying Cross – the fourth highest medal awarded for combat – was finally in the hands of 90-year-old Zane Gemmill of El Cajon.
"They usually sent crews home after they did 25 missions because they weren't expected to live that long," said Chuck Sweeney, the president of the DFC Society and a recipient of the medal.
Gemmill completed 50 combat missions. Sweeney saw an article about Gemmill, which mentioned he never received the prestigious award.
Gemmill was told his combat records were destroyed in a fire, but he also never told his family.
"We weren't allowed to talk about the war in our home," said Maureen Levan, Gemmill's daughter, who added that he started talking about not having the medal when he moved into his daughter's home 8 months ago."I was heartbroken. I never knew any of this."
Sweeney, Levan and a military liaison staff member in Rep. Duncan Hunter's office got to work with the documents that Gemmill had in his possession and the award was approved.
"It's an honor to get the DFC. I didn't think I'd ever get one," Gemmill said after the ceremony.
Levan said, "I'm so happy he's still alive and that he finally got the medal he should have received so many years ago. This was the final piece that had been missing."
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