A Korean War veteran who earned the military’s second-highest honor in 1951 could face time behind bars for wounding a crane with a slingshot.
The Daytona Beach News-Journal reports that Donald Daigneault, an 81-year-old Marine Corps veteran from Port Orange, Fla., was charged in Florida State Court with killing or wounding a threatened species after the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission fielded complaints that someone was shooting Florida sandhill cranes with a rifle. The charge carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison.
Daigneault, who spoke with Marine Corps Times briefly on Monday, said there was no gun involved–he was using a slingshot to fire marbles at the birds, who were pecking at his windows and scaring away songbirds. Whether he was using bullets or marbles, at least one of his projectiles connected, wounding a crane who later died, according to a commission reported cited by the News-Journal.
Since the incident, Daigneault said, he has had some success in keeping the cranes away.
“Luckily, they haven’t been coming around,” he said. “Somebody else has been feeding them.”
He is pleading not guilty to the charge and said he has an upcoming meeting with a public defender to discuss the case.
According to Daigneault’s Navy Cross medal citation in the MilitaryTimes.com Hall of Valor database, he received the prestigious award as a private first class during the Korean War for taking out seven hostile troops–killing four and wounding three more–with “deadly accuracy” with his automatic rifle, despite suffering from multiple shrapnel wounds. His actions stopped the enemy from advancing on Daigneault’s Marine squad, according to the citation, and saved the lives of his comrades.
Daigneault said he had little interest in talking about the medal or what he did to receive it.
“I don’t care to be publicized because it’s something that happened a long time ago,” he said.