ROANOKE CO., Va. (WDBJ7) Join Russ Robinson at a meeting of the 8th Air Force Fellowship, and it's clear he holds a place of honor in a room full of veterans.
And not just because he's 96 years old.
Robinson was 21 in 1944, and the pilot of a B-24 nicknamed "Arrowhead." He and his crew would fly 34 missions over Germany.
Today, he carries a fragment of an anti-aircraft shell that pierced the B-24, and came close to hitting fuel lines and blowing up the plane.
"That's a good luck charm," Robinson said showing us the shrapnel.
"It's a major point of pride that he and his crew completed their missions and returned safely to their base in Great Britain.
"I took 'em all over, and I brought 'em all back," he said.
Robinson credits a dedicated air crew, and his team on the ground, including a crew chief who drilled him on what to do in any emergency.
He says he will be thinking of them when he receives the Legion of Honor, and of many others who never returned from the battlefield.
"Standing out under the wing of an airplane. There's fog. You couldn't see 500 feet," he said. "You know that a lot of people are going to get killed. Maybe your next door people, that bomber or that bomber," he said. "But, you don't forget that."