WWII hero Fulton passes

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Friends, community remember the veteran

OCEAN CITY — As a machine gunner on a B-24 Liberator in the United States Army Air Corps during World War II, he flew 35 missions over France, Italy and a half-dozen other European countries, including the invasion of Normandy in 1944.

George W. Fulton earned numerous military decorations, including eight Bronze Stars and three Air Medals. He served as commander of the VFW Post 6650 in Ocean City for more than 10 years.

Most recently, he was named Chevalier of the Legion of Honor from France in gratitude for his contributions to the liberation of France during World War II.

Fulton, who passed away on Jan. 29 at the age of 88, was a war hero according to his friend Tom Tumelty.

“He was a humble man,” Tumelty said. “He was indeed a hero, but he would not tell you that. He said only the guys who died were heroes. He wanted to be an airman, he was doing his job and that was enough for him.”

Tumelty filed the application for Chevalier for Fulton.

“It took over a year,” he said. “As we became friends, I was at his house one day and saw this newsletter from his squadron, and it talked about one of his friends who was awarded the Chevalier. He told (me) he was eligible. I asked him if he would like me to file an application for him and he said yes, he would.”

The award ceremony was in New York and Tumelty was one of three people invited to attend.

“There were 43 of them, and George was first,” he said. “The room was filled, the French Ambassador presented the awards to each of them. At the end, there was a standing ovation and it was truly the longest standing ovation I have ever witnessed. They played both the French and American national anthems. It’s the highest honor that France bestows on anyone, it was quite an honor for George.

“He was once injured during one of the raids in the war, he was eligible for a Purple Heart, but he never said anything about his injury because he didn’t want them to send him home. They all said, ‘Either we’re going to go down together or stay together.’ He didn’t report it for fear they’d send him home, and he wanted to stay with squadron.”

Fulton, he said, was a simple man who enjoyed the nuances of small town life.

“Every day, he would go to Arlene’s for coffee,” he said. “He liked it there, and like clockwork, he would come in. That’s where I met George. If he didn’t show up, we’d call him.”

Fulton was born in Philadelphia and grew up in Roxborough, Pa. He was a resident of Ocean City since 1971.

“After the war he went into business with his father,” Tumelty said. “His father was a farrier: a blacksmith and he would shoe horses. He traveled all over North America to shoe racehorses. He had done shoes for many famous people. It’s almost a dichotomy, someone would be an airman and a farrier; he was a multi-talented man.

“George was a very intelligent man,” he said. “He was truly unique.”

Tumelty said Fulton had a great sense of humor.

“He was funny and ornery at the same time,” he said. “He was quite the lady’s man and he loved to kid around with the girls.”

Fulton, he said, became good friends with the staff at Arlene’s, forming a friendship with Helene Hamilton, a waitress.

“He really loved to kid her,” he said. “If he didn’t come in, they’d call; so they had his cell phone number and he had Helene’s. One time he was waiting for something and Helene was back in the kitchen gabbing with someone and he called her cell phone. He said, ‘What the hell does someone have to do to get service around here?’ He was a funny guy. You were always laughing when you were around George.”

Fulton was predeceased by his wife, Zora, a son, George W. Fulton Jr. and one granddaughter and one great granddaughter. Surviving are a daughter, Nancy Plauschinat and his son-in-law Fred, daughter-in-law Beth Fulton, six grandchildren and eight great grandchildren.

The Chevalier, he said, is heavy, like a piece of jewelry.

“That will be his legacy for his family,” Tumelty said. “He was a life commander of the VFW Post, a true hero, but for his family, this will be an heirloom.”

Ocean City Mayor Jay Gillian said the city was saddened to lose one of its most highly decorated veterans.

“On behalf of the entire city, I’d like to say that our thoughts and prayers are with the family of George Fulton,” he said. “I’m so proud that a few weeks ago I had the opportunity to help honor Mr. Fulton for his heroic service during World War II. I’m so happy that many people in the community got to learn about his service. I’ll never forget Mr. Fulton’s response to all of the fuss. He said, ‘It was your duty. That’s what you signed up for.’”

Fellow veteran Clark Manley said the highly-decorated WWII veteran and longtime post commander would be missed at the VFW.

“George did so much good for this post during his 40 years in Ocean City,” he said. “His gruff demeanor hid a very caring individual with a heart of gold. Though he has passed on, George as left behind a wonderful legacy and will continue to be lovingly remembered by his family, friends and all the fellow veterans whose lives he touched.”

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