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D-Day veteran, 93, belatedly earns a college degree
Frank Kuhn Jr., 93, of Spotsylvania is a World War II veteran who recently received
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"He asked me if I wanted to go to [Officer Candidate School]. I was one of two. They pushed me through because they needed second lieutenants. I just barely made it," Kuhn said. That was his first stint at Fort Belvoir.
By 1943, Kuhn was on a Liberty Ship bound for England. He claims he was the first man on Utah Beach on D-Day, June 6, 1944. The 237th Combat Engineer Battalion, he says, was sent to the beach earlier than planned.
Kuhn made it through five major campaigns in Europe, then was sent back home to Fort Belvoir.
He returned to Germany in 1947 for a three-year tour, and began taking college classes.
"I had two years of college credit before they discovered I had not finished high school," he recalled. He spent a year getting an equivalency degree.
Kuhn returned to Fort Belvoir, then served in Korea in 1952 and 1953.
After Korea he was back at Fort Belvoir, working as an information officer and administrator of the Army Education Center.
"The University of Maryland was one of two colleges we sponsored at Fort Belvoir," Kuhn said. His plan was to earn a degree in military science, but that wasn't to be.
He retired as a major in 1961, putting his education on hold.
Kuhn and his wife, Alice, a school counselor, lived in Northern Virginia for a few years, then moved to Alice's mother's place in Spotsylvania, where they spent the next 54 years.
Alice died in 2001.
Kuhn, who was wounded in World War II in Aachen, Germany, is founder of the Purple Heart Trail, a system of memorials to Purple Heart recipients on roads, highways, bridges and other sites.
Kuhn says his degree was worth waiting for.
With another Veterans Day on the horizon and another birthday under his belt, "I think I'm pretty darn lucky to come to this," he said.
Rusty Dennen: 540/374-5431