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After 75 years, ‘Hero of Cologne’ receives his Bronze Star

WASHINGTON — When 96-year-old Clarence Smoyer came to Washington, he thought he was heading to the Pentagon to sign copies of a book detailing his exploits as a World War II tank gunner.

Instead, he found a full Army color guard and ceremony awarding him a Bronze Star, 75 years after the battle that made him a hero.

Smoyer, of Allentown, Pennsylvania, was part of a famous duel in Cologne, Germany, where his Pershing tank destroyed a German Panther tank. The battle was captured on film and Smoyer became known as the “Hero of Cologne.” But he was denied a Bronze Star at the time due to a minor disciplinary issue.

The Army ruled last month that Smoyer deserved the medal and helped arrange Wednesday’s surprise at Washington’s World War II memorial.

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