SWEETWATER, Tenn. (WATE) – An East Tennessee town is mourning the loss of a World War II veteran, who was beloved by the community.
The City of Sweetwater remembered Rev. Clinton Riddle on Wednesday, who died Tuesday night.
Riddle was a veteran of the D-Day invasion who had been wounded in combat. He returned to Sweetwater after the war, continuing to serve others as a pastor and pillar of the community.
The mayor of Sweetwater, Doyle Lowe, was a close friend of Riddle and says “wherever you needed Clint, that’s where he was,” and also called him the icon of the town.
Clint Riddle was 98 years old. He passed away Tuesday night.
A fight for his first Purple Heart recognition
Back in 2014, Riddle had been fighting to get his first Purple Heart recognized, sharing with WATE 6 On Your Side that it would bring closure to his life.
He wrote poetry and about his 2-and-a-half years spent overseas during his service in WWII.
He was a glider co-pilot in the U.S. Army Airborne Division, fighting behind enemy lines for weeks on end, hiding in ditches to survive.
He was awarded two Purple Hearts for injuries to his shoulder in two separate incidents – the first when his glider took a nosedive and landed in a field.
Riddle showed WATE his first Purple Heart, but had said he was not authorized to wear it because it’s not on record.
The United State Army sent Riddle letters telling him they won’r authorize his first Purple Heart because there are no witnesses or evidence – and that the incident could have been an accident.
Riddle had told WATE 6 On Your Side he wasn’t giving up because he wanted his family to have the honor he fought for.
“So many talks about being a hero, hero. I didn’t win the war, I just did my part. And I would do it over again if I had to,” Riddle said.
Riddle also said back in 2014 the Army told him they didn’t have records to review because they were destroyed in a fire in 1973.
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