US & Canada

Gay US veteran's discharge upgraded to honourable after 68 years

Senator Richard Blumenthal (left) with Edward Spires (File photo) Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Mr Spires (right) has been supported by Senator Richard Blumenthal who welcomed the announcement by the US Air Force

A 91-year-old servicemen who was sacked from the US Air Force in 1948 because he was gay has succeeded in getting his dismissal reclassified as an honourable discharge.

Edward Spires served as a chaplain's assistant before being removed because he was deemed "undesirable".

He was forced out of the military after a probe into his sexual orientation.

The Air Force announced a discharge upgrade on Friday in response to a lawsuit filed by Mr Spires in November.

The veteran was initially denied an honourable discharge because the Air Force said his records had probably been destroyed in a 1973 fire.

But with the help of lawyers he was able to prove that he did indeed serve - and is now entitled to financial benefits and a military funeral because of the discharge upgrade.

Mr Spires has described his removal from the military as a "horrific and unbearable" experience.

His case has been backed by Senator Richard Blumenthal, who said on Monday that the move by the Air Force rectifies "an incredible injustice".

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