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Local War Hero to be Featured on Booklet of Postal Stamps
SELKIRK The United States Postal Service will release a commemorative World War II Medal of Honor Stamp on Monday. Featured on the stamp booklet will be Sgt. Frank Currey of Selkirk, New York. Sgt. Currey was awarded the Medal of Honor in 1945 for saving the lives of five of his fellow soldiers. At first, he tells CBS6, he was excited about the stamp but its since been a long, drawn-out, frustrating process.
On December 21, 1944, Frank Currey was just 19 years old, I had three months of combat before that day and 5 1/2 months after that day and to me, it was just another day, he says. Currey and his platoon were guarding a bridge near Malmedy, Belgium when German tanks advanced on their position. People don't realize how thin we were spread down there and how close we came to losing that war, he recalls. Under heavy fire, his small crew was forced to retreat to an abandoned factory where they each ran from window to window firing at the Germans so the enemy would think there were a lot more men inside than there actually were. Currey found a bazooka in the factory but the ammunition for it was across the street. He charged through gunfire to retrieve the ammo and on his way back, helped a number of other American soldiers who were caught in the crossfire, Over the course of the afternoon, I managed to disable them three tanks with the grenades and then I used a machine gun to cover the last couple of guys so they could get out, he tells CBS6. But Currey didnt get out with them, he returned back to the factory where five other soldiers were pinned, two of which were wounded and came up with a plan to get them all to safety. They found an abandoned jeep, loaded up the injured and decided to plow through. I said, I'll ride shotgun on this rear wheel that they had on the jeep and if we're challenged by the Germans, I'll hop off and cover, you guys just take off, he recalls.
They all got out a live that day but Currey was shot three times during his 9 months in combat. He was awarded the Medal of Honor while he was still overseas in addition to a Silver Star and three Purple Hearts. In the 70 years since, Currey has continued to help other soldiers as a benefits counselor at the Veterans Administration.
There are a total of 464 Medal of Honor recipients from World War II, more than half of which were awarded the Medal posthumously. The USPS has wanted to honor them for years but Currey says they could never get the plan together. This was supposed to be out in 2012 but they couldn't meet the deadline on itthe actual contract that we signed has been changed a least 4 times, he says. Nearly two years ago, the Postal Service reached out to the 12 living recipients with an offer to put their pictures on an actual stamp, then the plan changed to use their images on the booklet that the stamps would come in. They've procrastinated on this so long that of the 12 of us, 4 of them have now deceased, Currey says.
The USPS tells CBS6, We originally approached the living recipients with the concept of placing their images on the stamps themselves. We changed that as it is important to note that only 464 of 16 million Americans who served during World War II were singled out to receive the Medal of Honor. Of that, more than six out of 10 died as a result of their heroic actions and received the honor posthumously. We (USPS) decided to issue the stamps depicting the Medals of Honor and include photographs of the living recipients on the stamp pane as an appropriate way to recognize the living while still paying respect to all 464 recipients. Additionally, we have included all 464 names in the Medal of Honor World War II Forever stamp prestige folio. Spokeswoman, Maureen Marion goes on to explain, Senator Daniel Inouye, John Hawk, Vernon McGarity and Nicholas Oresko, who are now deceased, were four of the World War II Medal of Honor recipients who agreed to have their photographs included prior to their deaths. Their images will be included as part of the stamp sheet design because they were alive at the time the proposal was made to issue the stamps.
Locally, there will be a ceremony on Friday at the New Karner Road Postal Center in Albany to honor Frank Currey. The event starts at 1pm.