Getting Recognition for WWII Veteran Was ‘Honor of My Life’

LEHIGHTON, Pa. -- It took 74 years for World War II veteran Clarence Smoyer to get the Bronze Star he earned with heroic action in the war. Major Peter Semanoff is the soldier who pinned the medal on Smoyer. He helped make it happen. Both men are from Lehighton.

"It was the honor of my life, to be honest with you," Semanoff said.

The medal ceremony at the World War II Memorial comes after the release of the book "Spearhead" earlier this year. It details how Smoyer and his tank crew battled through Europe and how Smoyer fired the shots that helped win the pivotal Battle of Cologne.

Maj. Semanoff first heard that story while doing an Eagle Scout project with World War II veterans in Lehighton.

"We sat at our dinner table for four hours. My dad was there, and that was almost 20 years ago," Semanoff said.

Semanoff later went to Lycoming College with Adam Makos. Makos would go on to become a best-selling author, writing World War II stories.

Semanoff urged Makos to interview Smoyer.

"As the years went on, I kept pushing the story. I said, 'Hey, you have to interview Clarence Smoyer.'"

Makos did, and the book "Spearhead" is the result. The national attention for Clarence Smoyer's heroism is, too.

"To one day walk up to his house and say, 'Can I tell your story? Can I interview you?' And now seeing him adorned in the nation's capital, this is the treatment he's deserved," said Makos.

"It was fate, serendipitous. If I wouldn't have met Adam, this wouldn't have come together," Semanoff added.

These are two soldiers generations apart, linked by a hometown, and now a nationally known story of heroism.

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