Lieutenant Richard Conner, 89, returned to Utah beach for the first time since June 1944 at the weekend to receive the medal at the museum at Sainte-Marie-du-Mont which has one of only a handful of the aircraft that still exist today called Dinah Might on display.
â€˜I have never imagined myself as a hero,â€™ said a very modest Lieutenant Conner at a ceremony where he was given the award by French Aerial Corps General Pierre-Henri Mathe, adding that it was a very emotional moment.
Now a retired lawyer, he is originally from Michigan but today he lives in Davie in Florida with his wife. He said that his job on D-Day was to try to neutralise the German forces as the Allies landed on the beaches.
At 6.30 in the morning he was in position in the nose of the aircraft, a crucial role that demanded trust between the pilot and the bomber.
After D-Day the 386 Bomber Group went on to continue supporting Allied forces during the Battle of Normandy and was involved in the bombing of both Caen and Saint Lo. It also knocked out targets to help clear the Falaise pocket in August 1944 and was involved in the bombing of Brest in September of the same year.
After training at several airfields in the United States, the group was deployed to Europe in June 1943 and took part in many missions before D-Day, including operations on airfields in France and attacking marshalling yards and gun positions along the French channel coast.
The group was also involved in bombing airfields in the Netherlands and Belgium in February 1944 and in April 1944, just before D-Day as part of the plan to persuade the Germans that an invasion would come in the North of the channel rather than in Normandy.
In October 1944, the group moved to Beaumont-sur-Oise Airfield in Normandy France and returned to the United States after V-E Day, eventually deactivated on 07 November 1945.