It took 46 years, but the U.S. Air Force finally honored a World War II hero with its most prestigious medal for airborne bravery. As family and friends gathered Saturday around his bed at the Hallmark Nursing Center in Garden Grove, Calif., a U.S. Air Force colonel pinned the long-awaited Distinguished Flying Cross on the chest of Jack Ward. As co-pilot of a B-24 bomber, an injured Ward continued to fly his plane over Austria and Hungary after it had been hit, allowing crew members to parachute to the ground. The pilot had died instantly. "There are five of us living today because of him." said Gilbert Fisher, the plane's nose gunner from Bethesda, Md. A military oversight kept Ward from receiving his medal. His wife, Beverly, wrote to politicians and military officials. Her efforts were futile until a newspaper article caught the attention of Rep. Dana Rohrabacher. Rohrabacher's staff gathered accounts of the mission from those who flew with Ward and eventually the Air Force relented. Ward, 67, a former teacher who suffered a stroke eight years ago, stared at the ceiling with brimming eyes during the ceremony Saturday.