By Danza Johnson/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – Wallace Crumby and Byron Sneed received many awards and accolades as World War II veterans but the ones they got Saturday were just a little more special because friends and family shared in the moment.
In front of dozens of family and friends at Harrisburg Baptist Church, Congressman Alan Nunnelee pinned the French Legion of Honor and Distinguished Flying Cross medals on the men’s chests.
“I am so thankful to have family and friends here to share this moment with me,” said Crumby. “I appreciate everyone who made this happen. This is a great honor and a great privilege to receive.”
Sneed also said he appreciated the Distinguished Flying Cross medal, which is France’s highest decoration given to those for military service.
Although Sneed and Crumby, both now from Tupelo, grew up in different areas in Mississippi, the then-18-year-old men proudly fought for the same common goal.
“Remember, people, freedom is not free and we are able to sit here today and have this ceremony because these two men fought and helped to pay the price for that freedom,” Nunnelee said. “So take time to thank all our military veterans, they deserve it.”
Crumby has vivid memories of the days he spent flying bombing missions in WWII.
“I was a young man when me and my brother signed up to go fight in World War II but we knew we wanted to be a part of it and to help any way we could,” he said. “I was so afraid but I know God and prayer got me through it.”
Crumby remembers one time when he got in a bit of a sticky situation and something he learned in the fourth grade helped get him through it. He said in order to pass to the fifth grade he had to memorize Psalms 23 and memorization was not his favorite thing to do.
“I heard a voice that day that said Wallace, ‘Do you remember what you had to do in your fourth grade?’” remembers Crumby. “And I answered yes. Then Psalms 23 came back to me. And I said ‘Lord I’ll walk with you. Where ever you go I’ll follow.’ And that memory got me home.”
Sneed’s good friend, Leroy Mullins, spoke on his behalf and like Crumby he said prayer also helped get Sneed back to the Pontotoc County farm that he grew up on.
“I asked him once, I said, ‘Byron, why did you make it home and so many others did not,’” said Mullins about a conversation he had with Sneed. “And he told me that out of a five-house radius where he lived, there where 55 boys that went to World War II. And every night, whether in a church, a barn, a pasture or in someone’s home, people gathered and called out all 55 names in prayer. Well, all 55 of those boys returned home and those prayers were the reason.”