Notable Deaths ›

Francis Currey (1925 – 2019), WWII hero earned Medal of Honor

AP Photo / M. Spencer Green

With his death, only two World War II Medal of Honor recipients survive

Francis Currey was one of the last living World War II veterans who received the prestigious Medal of Honor, awarded to him for his valor during the Battle of the Bulge. Days after the horrific Malmedy massacre, U.S. Army veteran Currey singlehandedly wielded an arsenal of weapons against the First SS Panzer Division as they advanced on Allied troops. Currey counterattacked with grenades, two different machine guns, two different rifles, and a bazooka, taking out several German tanks and rescuing a number of his fellow American soldiers. In addition to his Medal of Honor, Currey received a Silver Star, a Bronze Star, and three Purple Hearts during his service in World War II. His death leaves just two World War II Medal of Honor recipients still living.

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Died: October 8, 2019 (Who else died on October 8?)

Details of death: Died at home in Selkirk, New York at the age of 94.

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Later life: After the war, Currey returned to his native New York and began working as a counselor for the VA Medical Center in Albany. He was with the VA 30 years before his retirement in 1980, after which he opened a landscaping business. In the 1990s, Currey became the first World War II Medal of Honor recipient to have a G.I. Joe action figure modeled after him.

Currey on his extraordinary valor: “It was just one day of nine months of steady combat” —from an interview with the Times-Union of Albany

What people said about him: “Through his extensive knowledge of weapons and by his heroic and repeated braving of murderous enemy fire, Sgt. Currey was greatly responsible for inflicting heavy losses in men and material on the enemy, for rescuing five comrades, two of whom were wounded, and for stemming an attack which threatened to flank his battalion’s position.” —from Currey’s Medal of Honor citation

“If you listened to Francis Currey describe his life, he’d tell you he was an average man. Never mind that he’s been featured on a U.S. postage stamp and was a model for one of the most famous dolls in history – G.I. Joe.” —motivational speaker Janine Stange

Full obituary: The New York Times

Related lives:

  • Thomas Hudner Jr. (1924 - 2017), Navy pilot was awarded the Medal of Honor for heroism during the Korean War
  • Barney F. Hajiro (2011), belatedly received the Medal of Honor
  • Dick Churchill (2019), last surviving WWII “Great Escape” team member