WWII Veteran Rolf Simonsen honored with Norwegian Defense Medal

LEWISTON, ID - A local veteran was honored by Norway's King Harold the fifth. Reporter Sophia Miraglio was at the ceremony held for the local hero.

This Friday will mark 70 years since D-day, however some wounds never heal.

"He got hit with a tail fin off a German motor during 'Battle of the Bulge', said son Jim Simonsen. "And he was paralyzed for nine months before he got his legs back under him. I wouldn't be here if it would have been a couple inches lower or a couple inches higher."

"I liked the army and I think we were a really proud outfit," said Norwegian Defense Medal recipient, Rolf Simonsen.

Rolf Simonsen, 92, was born in Norway but served in the 99th battalion for the United State military.

"The 99th battalion separate was established on July 10th, 1942," said Royal Norwegian Air Force Captain, Yngve Skoglund. "Its original mission was to be included in an allied campaign in the German occupied Norway. The soldier were volunteered first and second generation Norwegian immigrants to the United States. These guys enlisted in the U.S. Army as Norwegian citizens but became naturalized American citizens before going into battle"

"He says, 'would you like to change your name?' I said no," said Rolf Simonsen. "He says sign here and sign here you are now a U.S. citizen."

In January of 2011 The King of Norway made it a mission to honor all surviving veterans of the 99th battalion.

"I'm here today to officially award the second World War participant medal to Rolf Simonsen," said Skoglund. "Norway thanks you for your contribution in our fight for freedom"

A small token of appreciation that means the world.

"He suffered a lot from his injuries in WWII and it's just really nice to see the Norwegian government to do this for him and his family, so were very grateful for it," said Simonsen.

"I never expected that many people, and I'm grateful very grateful," said Rolf.

The 99th battalion had 931 men. Out of those, 207 were wounded, six went missing and 52 were killed.