Charles Durning: How the Military Shaped His Life

English: American actor Charles Durning on May...

English: American actor Charles Durning on May 25, 2008 at the 2008 National Memorial Day Concert in Washington D.C. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I will always remember Charles Durning for his role as Ernie Yost in an NCIS episode where he portrayed a WWII veteran and Medal of Honor recipient. The role earned Durning an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series 2005.

Druning died Monday at age 89. In “real life” he was a WWII veteran who served with distinction according to the LA Times.

… Durning was in the first wave of soldiers to land on Omaha Beach during the D-Day Normandy invasion in 1944. He was taken prisoner during the Battle of the Bulge and reportedly was one of the few survivors of the massacre of American POWs at Malmedy, Belgium.

For his service, he was awarded three Purple Hearts and a Silver Star.

In previous interviews, Durning said it took him a decade to  recover from his wounds both physical and psychological.

Durning’s life was connected to the military in other ways. He was the son of a World War I veteran who lost a leg in combat and died from the effects of mustard gas when Durning was only 12.

To support him and his nine siblings, Durning’s mother worked in the laundry at the Military Academy at West Point.

Durning will be laid to rest in a private ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery.

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