If 1950, George Branch received his diploma from Pen Argyl High School, Pennsylvania – 10 years late.

He should have received it in 1940, but left school to join the U.S. Amy. When he did eventually receive it, he returned to the borough a solder decorated for service in World War II.

As it turns out, this won’t be the only honour that Branch will receive late.

At 88 years old, he was beginning to wonder he would survive long enough to receive the U.S. military’s fourth-highest honour, the Bronze Star Medal.

On Sunday, his 64 year wait will come to an end.

Branch will be rewarded the most prestigious of the six decorations hill will have received.

"This sort of closes things up," said Branch, who achieved the rank of staff sergeant while in the military.

"It was a running battle until now," he said. "It was a race because I didn't know if I would get the medal or if the undertaker would get here first."

A 1947 fire at a military archive where some of Branch's records were stored is apparently responsible for the delay.

Branch enlisted in the Army on June 26, 1940, four days after France surrendered to Nazi Germany and three days after Adolf Hitler toured Paris.

"I don't know the exact thing that brought it to me," he says of the medal, which will be presented to him in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

"You just did what you were told and you did it the best you could. And you tried to stay alive. ... That's all I know."

The military remembers Branch's bravery, however. A citation which accompanies the medal says Branch, “led his infantry unit in several enemy skirmishes."

"His inspired leadership and expert combat skill helped lead his infantry unit... safely through enemy lines despite several hundred miles of intense combat action... to the industrial heart of Germany."

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