SHAHEEN HONORS VETERANS AT MEDAL CEREMONY

November 07, 2011

(Manchester, N.H.) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) today presented medals to three veterans for their military service.  Brothers Clifford and Albert Provencher received medals for their service in the Army in the years following World War II, and Retired Air Force Colonel Robert Fortnam received the U.S. Air Force Air Medal for his service in World War II.  The Provenchers also accepted medals posthumously on behalf of their father, Adelard Provencher, for his service in World War I.

“It’s a privilege to honor these veterans and present them with this long overdue recognition of their selfless service to our nation,” Shaheen said.  “For the sake of their fellow Americans, these men fought and worked in foreign lands, sometimes at great risk to their lives.  On behalf of all the people of New Hampshire and the nation, I thank them for their service.”

Shaheen’s office worked closely with Albert Provencher to secure medals for his father, Adelard, and brother, Clifford.  Albert had been awarded his medals previously but never as part of a formal presentation, which he received today.  Shaheen’s office also worked closely with Colonel Fortnam to secure his Air Medal.

Adelard Provencher served in the Army in France from 1918 to 1919 during World War I.  He was a stretcher bearer, responsible for going out in the field to assist the wounded.  Today, his sons accepted on his behalf a Purple Heart, the World War I Victory Medal, the French Service Clasp, the Defensive Sector Battle Clasp, the Meuse-Argonne Battle Clasp, and the St. Mihiel Battle Clasp.

From 1946 to 1947, Clifford Provencher served in the Army.  As a member of the 440th Signal Heavy Construction Battalion in Japan, Clifford served as a Lineman and was tasked with maintaining vital communication networks and lines between aircraft and troops on the ground.  Today, he was awarded the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal, World War II Victory Medal, Army of Occupation Medal with Japan Clasp, and World War II Honorable Service Lapel Button. 

Albert Provencher served in the Army with H and S Company, 2nd Engineers Combat Battalion from 1949 to 1952, including deployment in Germany and France.  As an engineer, Albert helped to complete numerous fortification and bridge building projects, and performed construction vital to U.S. troops.  He also served as an interpreter during his service in France.  Today, he was presented with the Army of Occupation Medal with German Clasp, Army Good Conduct Medal, and the National Defense Service Medal—all of which he had previously received.

Retired Air Force Colonel Robert Fortnam joined the U.S. Army Air Forces in 1942 and served with the Air Force until 1975.  As a member of the 365th Bomb Squadron of the 305th Bombardment Group, Colonel Fortnam was on a mission to Bremen, Germany, on October 8, 1943, when the B-17 Flying Fortress bomber he co-piloted came under attack.  With one engine of the aircraft disabled, another on fire, and the pilot wounded and unconscious, Colonel Fortnam made the decision to prepare for an emergency landing.

While managing the remaining two engines on the aircraft, Colonel Fortnam was able to maintain adequate power to continue flight and ordered all crew-members into the radio room to prepare for an “off-airport” crash landing.   Without landing equipment, Colonel Fortnam made a successful emergency landing and all 10 air-crew members safely exited the plane. 

Today, Colonel Fortnam was awarded the U.S. Air Force Air Medal, for meritorious achievement in aerial flight.

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