MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — Officials at a Mobile Catholic school are paying tribute to a World War II veteran who gave his life to save an Italian village. The sacrifice of Lt. Harry Anslem Partridge Jr. is being recognized nearly 80 years later. Every year every Catholic school gives out a Distinguished Graduate award. This year St. Mary gave theirs posthumously to Lt. Partridge.

A ceremony was held at St. Mary Catholic Church last week. You can watch it here. The award was presented to surviving family members. In 1944 Harry Anslem Partridge Jr. was part of a bombing raid in Italy.

His plane was hit by enemy fire and went down toward the town of Boffalora. Witnesses in the town saw Partridge veer his plane into the woods, sparing their village below. He was initially buried in a Catholic cemetery also called St. Mary and revered as a hero for his actions.

“He was able and capable of heroic things and I think that’s the message for our students, that each of them is capable of wonderful things,” said St. Mary Catholic School Principal Debbie Ollis. Partridge attended St. Mary Catholic School in Mobile way back in 1928. The school still has his enrollment card that’s nearly a century old. Partridge’s body was repatriated back to the states in the late 1940s. The story of his heroism remained relatively unknown for 70 years until researchers found a record of an American pilot buried in Boffalora about a decade ago.