Melvin E. Biddle, the last surviving Hoosier to receive the Medal of Honor during World War II, died Thursday at his home in Anderson.
He was 87.
Friends said Biddle, a Daleville native, was a humble man who rarely talked about the two days in 1944 when he single-handedly killed more than a dozen German soldiers.
"He didn't want to be publicized too much," said Lew Goodwin, commander of Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 266 in Anderson. "He told us he did it to help his buddies out. He got tired of being shot at. He got tired of everyone being pinned down."
Biddle was a member of VFW Post 266 but had been visiting less frequently as his health deteriorated, Goodwin said. He said he never saw Biddle wear his medal.
Fellow post members were proud to have Biddle among their ranks.
"He was just somebody you could look up to," said Bennie Cravens, 66. "You felt proud to be a member of the same organization."
Pfc. Biddle was a scout with the 517th Parachute Infantry Regiment when his unit was sent to attack German soldiers encircling the town of Hotton, Belgium, on Dec. 23 and 24, 1944, during the Battle of the Bulge.
Biddle pushed through dense forest and used his rifle and grenades to kill more than a dozen German snipers and machine gunners, according to his award citation.
"His 20-hour action enabled his battalion to break the enemy grasp on Hotton with a minimum of casualties," the citation said.
With Biddle's death, there are 86 surviving Medal of Honor recipients, including Sammy L. Davis, a Vietnam War veteran formerly of Indianapolis.
Davis, 64, said Biddle was known as "Uncle Bud" to fellow Medal of Honor recipients.
"When I grow up, I want to be just like Melvin Biddle," Davis said. "He was a good man in every aspect."
Davis had just undergone knee replacement surgery and was recuperating in a Vincennes-area hospital Friday. He said he hopes doctors discharge him in time to attend Biddle's funeral.
"It's made my heart heavy," Davis said.
President Harry S. Truman gave Biddle the medal on Oct. 12, 1945. According to the Medal of Honor Society, Truman whispered to Biddle: "People don't believe me when I tell them I'd rather have one of these than be president."
Biddle is survived by his wife, Leona, and other family members. Funeral services were pending.