Austin Steen, a Hometown Hero - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

Austin Steen, a Hometown Hero

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Austin Steen, a Hometown Hero Austin Steen, a Hometown Hero
LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) -

You may have seen it in World War II movies. Army paratroopers jump out of planes one by one, falling from the sky right into enemy lines ready for combat.

For 88-year-old Austin Steen, that was his life for two and a half years.

"This is what we would use if our own men was firing on us, you can take it out and wave it and get them to stop," Steen said, holding up a neon green rag.

Steen survived several major battles in Europe, including the Battle of the Bulge and an airborne assault over the Rhine River.

He was told if he could survive the first two hours of battle, he would survive the rest.

"Everyone wore one of these in combat," Steen said, holding up a tattered American flag shoulder patch.

"We pinned them on with safety pins. It's been in a lot of foxholes."

Living in foxholes in one of the worst winters Europe has ever seen earned Steen his first Purple Heart medal.

"One of them was from frost bite feet. I stayed in the hospital for about a month in Normandy, France. The other one I got hit in the head by a rifle butt," he said.

Surviving 76 days in combat and earning two Purple Heart medals, Steen says he is lucky to be alive. But most of his friends didn't survive.

"Two of them that I was closest to when they got killed...we were under a tree which we wasn't supposed to and they shelled a tree and got both of them, one on each side. And I got powder burn, that's all I got."

A man of many memories and several souvenirs, many who know Austin Steen say he is a true Hometown Hero.

For more Hometown Hero stories, click here.

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