ELBERTON, Ga. -- The famous granite from the Northeast Georgia town of Elberton is treasured all over the world.

11 Alive has found another Elberton treasure who served his country honorably more than a half century ago and has been serving more than 100 fellow veterans since.

Robert Lee Aston has spent several years on a one man crusade to get those veterans the recognition they deserve.

"I've got a lot to be grateful for and so does my crew," Aston told 11 Alive on Wednesday.

He still remembers that crew, the 9 other young men who shared a B-24 bomber with him over Nazi Germany in World War Two.

Mostly just teenagers, they cheated a 1 in 4 chance of death or capture.

Despite shot up engines and other damage to their plane, they survived 35 missions with the 44th Bomb Group of the U.S. Army 8th Air Force.

During all those missions, only one crew man suffered a minor flesh wound.

Trained first as a pilot, Lee Aston served as the plane's navigator, beginning at age 19.

Now racked with health problems, including a recent stroke, 88-year-old Aston gota fewmedals at the end of the war.

But like many veterans, others he deserved were lost for decades in the red tape of bureaucracy.

"Everybody was ready to go home and to heck with the medals and honors and awards," he described their attitude when the war ended.

But about a dozen years ago, the mining engineer and attorney began a quest for his own missing decorations.

He succeeded in getting seven Air Medals, two Distinguished Flying Crosses and a Silver Star for gallantry.

The Silver Star was for a mission where he successfully reorganized and led several scattered aircraft to their target in bad weather.

But Aston didn't stop with his own medals.

For the past 12 years he's done hours of free legal work to secure long overdue medals for 114 other veterans, 5 of them from the Vietnam War.

"I like to win lawsuits, as a lawyer I like to win, you know, that's what it's all about," he said.

"I hit a bunch of home runs," he added.

Aston's 115th and last submission is still pending.

It requests a Distinguished Flying Cross for World War Two bomber gunner Homer Latty, who now lives in Ashville, North Carolina.

Like so many others, Kevin Latty of Sandy Springs is grateful for Aston's work on behalf of his father.

"I'm sure he's not doing it for the recognition, but I love the fact that he can be honored for what he's doing," Kevin Latty told 11 Alive.

Lee Aston has received several honors for his work on behalf of other veterans, including a distinguished service award from the State Bar of Georgia.

But with his health failing and his military and political contacts drying up, he thinks he's finally reached the end of his long crusade.

"I think I'll take a free ride to heaven...I hope," he said.

For Lee Aston, that would probably be reward enough.

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