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Commemorative DDay Ceremony On The Battleship Texas

World War Two veterans are bestowed France’s highest honor for bravery

The Battleship Texas was there off the beaches of Normandy for the historic invasion, and it was a fitting location to give some 3-dozen veterans of that invasion, France’s highest award for valor. In honor of their service to this country, and for their sacrifice to help liberate France from Nazi Germany 70 years ago, the Medal of Chevalier in the French Order of the Legion of Honor was presented to each of the men, like William Toombs. His contribution was read by a student from the Awty School:

“You flew 28 missions over France, Belgium, Germany and Czechoslavakia. Your first six missions were in direct support of the Normandy invasion, bombing airfields and bridges. You got hit on September 1944, but managed to fly the crippled bomber to Brussels, which had been liberated a few days earlier.”

After the ceremony, Toombs said the recognition for his service was a welcomed surpise for a time he will never forget:

“That morning, DDay morning, we got up at four o’clock. I could hear the guns, we thought it was thunder, said Toombs. “I kind of rolled across the channel, we were 26 miles across there. And I said ‘that don’t sound like thunder!’. So after we had our mess, we went to the breifing room, and they said ‘Gentlemen, we’re invading the continent this morning’. Then I knew what it was, the old battleship.”

Air Force veteran Perry Kerr was humbled by the recognition:

“Aw man, it’s just more than I can imagine, even receiving it. It’s a great honor, said Kerr. “Man, I got misty eyed the other day. We flew into Washington D.C. and all the people cheering and raising cain, and were shaking hands with us. They really showed up to welcome us and congratulate us.”

The Consul General of France was on hand to present each veteran with the medal, and a memento  containing grains of sand from Utah Beach. The grains, said the consul general, serve as a reminder of a committment, of friends fallen on the field of honor, and a reminder of the landings that liberated the world from Nazi oppression.

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