It’s not often that the French National Anthem is played at a military base in the United States, but this event was an exception.
“We stand on the shoulders of these combat veterans. It’s my humble privilege to salute the 13 of you collectively.”
That’s Major General Jimmie Wells welcoming the World War II veterans who were able to make the ceremony at Ellington Field. Unfortunately, two recipients Stephen (Stefan) Bonar and Douglas Grogan were not present. Bodnar due to ill health and Grogan who passed away just last week.
“Fortunately, we are honored by the presence of Mr. Grogan’s family to join us in his absence.”
They weren’t the only family and friends who filled the room along with many of the current soldiers on the base. Texas’ Consul General of France Monsiuer Frederic Bontems spoke about each veteran receiving the Chevalier de la Legion d’Honneur or Knight of the Legion of Honour, including one Houston veteran Jack Dulworth.
“You crossed the English Channel with the 60th Black Panther Infantry Division. A faithful trip when a companion ship was torpedoed with the loss of almost 800 young men.”
Dulworth was also celebrating his 87th birthday. Another recipient John Barber from Santa Fe couldn’t have foreseen a day like this when he first enlisted 71 years ago.
“I am humbled and I am honored. If I may, I would like to also accept this honor on behalf of my crew. I would also like to honor all of those young men and women who didn’t come home.”
Each veteran was receiving their medal because of service on the battlefield during World War II, but also because of their public service since leaving the military. The Legion of Honour was established by Napoleon Bonaparte in May 1802 and is similar to the United States Medal of Honor.