D-Day war hero aged 98 honoured with British Empire Medal

A WWII Royal Air Force veteran has been presented with the British Empire Medal at a ceremony in Scotland.

Don Mason received the medal from the Lord-Lieutenant of Caithness, Lord Thurso, in the town's Royal British Legion club.

"I feel very humbled," said Mr Mason to a hall filled to the gunwales with family, friends, local councillors and military personnel.

Mr Mason hopes to go to Normandy next month for the 75th commemoration of the D-Day landings that he took part in.

"The reason for going finally is my squadron flight commander crashed and was killed on the night of D-Day June 6, 1944, when delivering paratroopers to Ranville near Pegasus Bridge. I want to go to his memorial to pay tribute to him."

Mr Mason flew to Normandy twice on D-Day, first dropping paratroops and then a glider with more troops and equipment. All 16 planes in his squadron were hit by anti-aircraft fire – but he said: "it was simply a job that had to be done".

The BEM is an award for meritorious civil or military service worthy of recognition by the Crown.

Lord Thurso said: "By command of Her Majesty I presented the British Empire Medal to Mr Mason for his gallantry during World War II and for services given to the community in Caithness.

"I would add that it's a great personal pleasure to me to bestow this medal. He's been a stalwart of the community here and many young people in our county have benefited from his wonderful talks and lectures."

Lord Thurso went on to say that the BEM award was "hugely merited" by Mr Mason.

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