DAVIS-MONTHAN AFB, Ariz. - Walter Ram was a radioman and machine gunner on B-17 bombers. They flew straight and level into thick storms of fighter planes and anti aircraft.
"Everytime the commanders in England would send us on a mission, they knew we were not all coming back and so did we; we knew that too. We just went ahead. Nobody was afraid or thought anything of it. We had to go fight and destroy that target and whatever it took."
His plane was hit on his third mission. He was hurt when his plane barely made it to England to crash land there.
He had to bail out on mission number six. He was burned, and spent the next two years starving as a German Prisoner of War.
When he was interrogated a German officer put a gun to his head.
"I just plain didn't care. I didn't care if he shot me or not so I just kept telling him, I don't know. I don't know. And lucky for me, which I am here today he put his gun back in his holster and looked down at me because he was standing up and I was sitting down and said, 'you fool!, You should have been killed instead of just wounded."
Wounds from both crashes qualified him for two Purple Hearts, but he did not receive one from the first crash landing.
Senator Martha McSally and her staff pushed to secure the medal.
She says, “We just continued to engage and weren't going to take no for an answer. It took that persistence by friends and family, by Colonel Olson and by my team."
Walter Ram survived danger, deprivation and saw a dictatorship close up. He finds it hard to believe young people today know so little about World War Two.
Because you know. We're a free country. We live very well. We have a way of life unbeatable anyplace and a lot of the kids don't know how but we paid a high price for that."