Légion d’honneur recipients

The Consulate of France in Los Angeles is pleased to announce that the President of the French Republic has bestowed The National Order of The Legion of Honor in the rank of Chevalier (Knight) to the following World War II veterans.The award is the highest honor France bestows on its citizens and foreign nationals.


Last distinctions awarded by the Consulate General of France in Los Angeles:

San Diego, California, July 26, 2016

Mr. Christophe Lemoine, Consul General of France in Los Angeles, bestowed the National Order of the Legion of Honor in the rank of Chevalier (Knight) on ten World War II US veterans at a ceremony held at the Veterans Museum and Memorial Center in San Diego.

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The ten veterans who were honored included:

Colonel Robert (Bob) W. Smothers, USAF (Ret) was born in Fullerton, California in December 1922. He was a B-17 navigator with the 728th Bomb Squadron of the 452nd Bomb Group and flew in four combat missions into Germany and helped repatriate French POWs from Austria. He served a career in the U.S. Air Force retiring in 1971. His significant decorations include the Silver Star Medal (heroism in Korea), the Bronze Star Medal, five Air Medals, two Meritorious Service Medals, three Presidential Unit Citations, the EAME Campaign Medal with 1 battle star, the Korean Service Medal, and the Vietnam Service Medal. Bob and his wife Hazel reside in La Jolla, California.

Colonel Louis C. Gerken, USAR (Ret) was born in November 1925 in Lakewood, New Jersey and was raised in Waretown. He served in Europe with the U.S. Army 286th Engineer Combat Battalion and took part in the heavy battles around Colmar, Epinal, and Strasbourg and around the French Maginot Line. He stayed in the Army reserves while in civilian life and retired in 1985. His significant decorations include the Meritorious Service Medal, the EAME Campaign medal with two battle stars, the Army of Occupation Medal, and the World War II Victory Medal. Louis and his wife Carmen reside in Chula Vista, California.

Captain Freelin “Alan” Carlton was born in January 1919, in Detroit, Michigan. He deployed to England with the U.S. Army Air Corps in October 1943 as a B-24 Pilot with the 567th Bomb Squadron of the 389th Bomb Group. Alan flew on 14 combat missions and was shot down and injured over Germany on his last one in February 1944 and became a POW. His significant decorations include the Purple Heart, two Air Medals, the EAME Campaign Medal with one battle star and the POW Medal. He lives with his wife of 73 years, Jeanne, in Del Mar, California.

Lieutenant Junior Grade George “Mike” Welch, USN (Ret) was born in May 1921 in Wells, Minnesota. He served in the U.S. Navy and was seriously injured when his minesweeper vessel the USS Tide (AM 125) hit a magnetic mine and sunk quickly on June 7, 1944 while supporting the Normandy landings. Mike was medically retired after the war. His significant decorations include the Purple Heart Medal, the EAME Campaign Medal with one battle star and the World War II Victory Medal. He resides in Coronado, California.

Second Lieutenant Tony Bezer was born in April 1922, in Aberdeen, Washington. He deployed to England with the U.S. Army Air Corps as a B-17 bombardier and later as a navigator with the 850th Bomb Squadron of the 490th Bomb Group and completed 35 combat missions. His significant decorations include the Air Medal with 5 oak leaf clusters, the EAME Campaign Medal with two battle stars and the World War II Victory Medal. Tony is presently living in San Diego with his sweetie, Sandy.

Technical Sergeant Horace W. Seyster was born in January 1925 in Oregon, Illinois. Horace arrived in England with the U.S. Army Air Corps in January 1945 and flew 27 combat missions with the 457th Bomb Group as a Radio Operator and Gunner. His significant decorations include the Air Medal with 3 oak leaf clusters, the EAME Campaign Medal with three battle stars, the Berlin Airlift Medal, and the World War II Victory Medal. He resides with his daughter, Chris, in San Marcos, California.

Technical Sergeant William E. Stovall was born in Norfolk, Virginia in March 1924. In December 1944 he was assigned with the U.S. Army Air Corps in England as a B-17 mechanic and aerial gunner with the 570th Bomb Squadron of the 390th Bomb Group. On his first of 21 combat missions, his group lost one third of their bombers. His significant decorations include the Air Medal with two oak leaf clusters, the EAME Campaign medal with three battle stars and the American Campaign Medal. William resides in Santa Ysabel, California.

Sergeant James H. Eshelman was born in Chicago, Illinois in February 1926. He deployed to England with the U.S. Army Air Corps in February 1945 with the 550th Bomb Squadron of the 385th Bomb Group as a B-17 tail gunner. On his 6th mission he was seriously injured by flak and was paralyzed for several weeks due to nerve shock, but recovered to go back to flying after several months. His significant decorations include the Purple Heart Medal, the Air Medal, the EAME Campaign Medal with three battle stars, and the World War II Victory Medal. James and his wife, Joan, reside in Irvine, California.

Technician Fifth Grade Arnold M. Rotsman was born in March 1923 in New York City, New York. Arnold deployed to England in October 1944 as a Combat Medic with the 289th Infantry Regiment of the 75th Infantry Division. He saw action in the Battle of the Bulge, in Holland, and in the Colmar region of France where he was wounded in February 1945. His significant decorations include the Bronze Star Medal, the Purple Heart Medal, the Combat Medic Badge, the EAME Campaign Medal with three battle stars, and the World War II Victory Medal. Arnold and his wife, Nancy Jo, reside in Menifee, California.

Private First Class Raymond L. Deming was born in December 1924 in Salt Lake City, Utah. Ray deployed to France in December 1944 with the 42nd Rainbow Infantry Division, 232nd Cannon Company. He served in the Battle of the Bulge, the Battle for Strasbourg with the 1st French Army, and in the liberation of Dachau. His
significant decorations include the Bronze Star Medal, the Combat Infantryman Badge, the EAME Campaign Medal with three battle stars, the Army of Occupation Medal, and the World War II Victory Medal. Ray currently lives in San Marcos, California, with his wife, Barbara.

Las Vegas, Nevada, April 20, 2016

Mr. Eric Auger, Honorary Consul of France for Southern Nevada, bestowed the National Order of the Legion of Honor in the rank of Chevalier (Knight) on a US World War II veteran at a ceremony held in Las Vegas.

Technical Sergeant J. Hess, a 98-year-old U.S. WW II Army Veteran from North Las Vegas, was born in the farming community of Monmouth, Illinois. Sergeant Hess was part of the third wave to hit Utah Beach in Normandy, France in 1944. While facing the enemy he sustained a leg wound from a German “Screaming MiMi” rocket. Due to receiving this wound in action, Elmer was awarded the Purple Heart. After the award, Elmer left the Purple Heart in its case and placed it in the pocket of his fatigue shirt. Later that same day, Elmer was again hit by enemy fire but this time the shrapnel was stopped from doing bodily damage when it struck the box containing his medal.
While on patrol with his Colonel, a German Panzer knocked their jeep out of action. The three soldiers from the jeep took constant fire for the next three hours. During this time, a shot from a German rifle knocked Elmer’s helmet clear off of his head. With the arrival of the Army Air Corps Thunderbolts, the three men were able to escape.
As part of Patton’s Third Army, Elmer next participated as part of the force that traveled over one hundred miles on snow covered roads to relieve the 101st Airborne encircled in the City of Bastogne. It was here, like many other soldiers, Elmer experienced a severe case of frostbite to his knees eventually resulting in a double knee replacement.
His significant decorations include: The Purple Heart, Bronze Star with a “V” for valor with Oak Leaf Cluster and Combat Infantry Badge.

Hawthorne, California, April 10, 2016

Mr. Christophe Lemoine, Consul General of France in Los Angeles, bestowed the National Order of the Legion of Honor in the rank of Chevalier (Knight) on Lt Col Robert W. Johnson, USAF (Ret), an Air Force Cold War veteran, at a ceremony held at Trinity Lutheran Church in Hawthorne, California.

Lt Col Robert (Bob) Johnson, USAF (Ret) was born in Bronxville, New York in June 1945 but moved to South America at the age of 3 and spent the next 21 years living in Argentina and Puerto Rico. After attending Cornell University and later graduating with an engineering degree from Colorado State University in 1968, he pursued a 21-year U.S. Air Force career. His assignments in the U.S. and Spain involved engineering development and operation of command and control systems for both ground and space applications. His travels took him to France several times on military business. He received an M.B.A. from the University of Utah in 1977. After his Air Force retirement in 1990 Lt Col Johnson became involved in seeking awards and recognition for American and Allied veterans of World War I and World War II. He has helped organize over 75 Legion of Honor presentation ceremonies honoring an estimated 60 World War I and 200 World War II veterans and was the MC and Co-Chair for the D-Day 60th and 70th Anniversary Commemoration Ceremonies in the Los Angeles area.
His other volunteer community work has included long term service with the Veterans of WWI of the U.S.A, the American Legion, Trinity Lutheran Church of Hawthorne, Colorado State University as an Alumni Ambassador, Habitat for Humanity of Greater Los Angeles as a crew leader, the U.S. Merchant Marine Veterans of WW2 as a member of the “SS Lane Victory” crew, and the alumni association for his high school in Argentina. Thanks to Lt Col Johnson’s efforts, World War I veteran Emiliano Mercado del Toro of Puerto Rico was certified by Guinness World Records as the world’s oldest living man in January 2005 at age 113+. Bob’s significant decorations include the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, three Meritorious Service Medals, three Air Force Commendation Medals and the French National Order of Merit medal. He resides in El Camino Village, California with his wife Susan of 43 years and their cat Willie.

Pacific Palisades, California, March 9, 2016

Mr Christophe Lemoine, Consul General of France in Los Angeles, bestowed the National Order of the Legion of Honor in the rank of Chevalier (Knight) on ten World War II US Army veterans at a ceremony held at the Americain Legion Post 283 in Pacific Palisades.

The ten veterans who were honored included:

Lieutenant Colonel Albert E. Templin, U.S. Air Force (Ret) was born in El Dorado, Kansas in November 1919. During World War II he was a Supply and Evacuation Staff Officer with the 373rd Fighter Group. His significant decorations include the Air Force Commendation Medal, the Army Commendation Medal, the EAME Campaign Medal with 6 campaign stars, and the Belgian Fourragere. Albert resides in San Juan Capistrano, California.

Captain Charles A. Lewis was born in Holdrege, Nebraska in January 1924. He was a B-17 Pilot with the U.S. Army Air Corps 384th Bomb Group, and completed 25 missions in Europe. His significant decorations include four Air Medals, the EAME Campaign Medal with 3 battle stars and the World War II Victory Medal. Charles lives in Woodland Hills, California.

Master Sergeant Robert D. Hall was born in Watseka, Illinois in December 1925. He deployed to Europe with the U.S. Army’s 274th Infantry Regiment of the 70th Infantry Division as a radio operator. His significant
decorations include the Combat Infantryman Badge, the EAME Campaign Medal with 3 battle stars, the Army of Occupation Medal and the World War II Victory Medal. Bob resides in Redondo Beach, California.

Staff Sergeant Leo Levitan was born in New York City, New York in January 1924. In Europe he served as a B-26 radio operator, aerial gunner and radar navigator with the U.S Army Air Corps 387th Bomb Group. His significant decorations include seven Air Medals, the Presidential Unit Citation, and the EAME Campaign Medal with 3 battle stars. Leo resides in Woodland Hills, California.

Staff Sergeant George B. Underwood was born in Oswego, New York in March 1923. He served in U.S. Army Air Corps and completed 68 combat missions as a B-25 top turret with the 310th Bombardment Group. His major decorations include four Air Medals with four oak leaf clusters, two Presidential Unit Citations, and the EAME Campaign Medal with five battle stars. George resides in Los Angeles, California.

Sergeant Thomas J. Tugend was born in Berlin, Germany in October 1923. He served with the U.S. Army in Europe as an infantryman with the 254th Infantry Regiment of the 63rd Infantry Division and later with the Counter Intelligence Corps. His significant decorations include the Bronze Star Medal, the Combat Infantryman Badge, the EAME Campaign Medal with two battle stars, and the French Croix de Guerre Fourragere. Thomas resides in Sherman Oaks, California.

Private First Class A. G. “Agie” Harada was born in Grant, Idaho in January 1924. He served with the 100th Battalion of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team. His significant decorations include the Bronze Star Medal, the Combat Infantryman Badge, the Presidential Unit Citation, the EAME Campaign Medal with three battle stars and the Army of Occupation Medal. In November 2011, the 442nd Regimental Combat Team was presented the Congressional Gold Medal at ceremonies in Washington D.C. Agie lives in Orange, California.

Private First Class Richard C. Lavelle was born in Brooklyn, New York in July 1925. He served in Europe with the U.S. Army as part of Tank Destroyer crews supporting a number of divisions. His significant decorations include the EAME Campaign Medal with two battle stars, the World War II Victory Medal, and the American Campaign Medal. Richard lives in Woodland Hills, California.

Private First Class Floyd R. Ross was born in Santa Paula, California in October 1923. Floyd deployed to Europe as a heavy mortar crewman with the 291st Infantry Regiment of the 75th Infantry Division. His significant decorations include the Bonze Star Medal, the Combat Infantryman Badge, the EAME Campaign Medal with five battle stars, and the World War II Victory Medal. Floyd resides in Ontario, California.

Private First Class Jerry C. Spellman served in the U.S Army in Europe as a Combat Medic with the 317th Infantry Regiment of the 80th Infantry Division. His significant decorations include the Bronze Star Medal, the Purple Heart Medal with one oak leaf cluster, The Combat Medic Badge, the EAME Campaign Medal with two battle stars, and the World War II Victory Medal. Jerry resides in Orange, California.

San Pedro, California, May 8, 2015

Mr. Axel Cruau, Consul General of France in Los Angeles, bestowed the National Order of the Legion of Honor in the rank of Chevalier (Knight) on nineteen World War II US Army veterans at a ceremony on board the Battleship USS Iowa in San Pedro. The ceremony also commemorated the 70th Anniversary of the Victory in Europe (V-E Day).

The nineteen veterans who were honored included:

Colonel Ernest “Jack” Rokahr, USAR (Ret) was born in Lincoln, Nebraska in September 1922. During World War II he was a mortar platoon leader with the 274th Infantry Regiment of the 70th Infantry Division. His significant decorations include the Bronze Star Medal, the Combat Infantryman Badge, the Meritorious Service Medal, and the EAME Campaign Medal with three battle stars. Jack resides in Los Angeles California.

Lieutenant Colonel Robert L. Hecker, USAFR (Ret) was born in Provo, Utah in May 1922. He was a B-17 Bombardier with the US Army Air Corps 615th Bomb Squadron of the 401st Bomb Group, and completed 30 missions in Europe with 17 of those as lead. His significant decorations include the Distinguished Flying Cross, five Air Medals, and the EAME Campaign Medal with 3 battle stars. Robert lives in Sherman Oaks, California.

Captain Walter V. Bodlander was born in Breslau, Germany in November 1920. In Europe he served in the U.S. Army 8th Infantry Regiment of the 4th Infantry Division as a Military Intelligence Officer. His significant decorations include two Bronze Star Medals, the Purple Heart Medal, the Presidential Unit Citation, the Combat Infantryman Badge, and the EAME Campaign Medal with 5 battle stars. Walter resides in Los Angeles, California.

Sergeant First Class James H. Keller, USA (Ret) was born in Bowling Green, Kentucky in October 1923. He deployed in Europe with the U.S. Army 109th Infantry Regiment, 28th Infantry Division as part of a mortar crew and was wounded in the vicinity of Gathemo, France. His significant decorations include the Bronze Star Medal, the Purple Heart Medal, the Combat Infantryman Badge, the EAME Campaign Medal with 5 battle stars, and the French Croix de Guerre Fourragere. James resides in Ventura, California.

Staff Sergeant Carmen A. Schiavoni was born in August 1924, in Chicago, Illinois. He served in U.S. Army Air Force and completed 30 combat missions as a B-17 a waist gunner and bombardier with the 709th Bomb Squadron of the 447th Bombardment Group. His major decorations include the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Air Medal with 4 oak leaf clusters, the Presidential Unit Citation, and the EAME Campaign Medal with 4 bronze stars. Carmen resides in Northridge, California.

Technical Sergeant Masao Takahashi was born in Modesto, California in August 1924. He served with the 100th Infantry Battalion attached to the 442nd Regimental Combat Team. His significant decorations include the Bronze Star Medal, the Combat Infantryman Badge, the Presidential Unit Citation, the EAME Campaign Medal with three battle stars and the Army of Occupation Medal. In November 2011, the 442nd Regimental Combat Team was presented the Congressional Gold Medal at ceremonies in Washington D.C. Masao lives in Torrance, California with Elma, his wife of 68 years.

Sergeant Kenneth C. Mallory was born in Pasadena, California in December 1924. He served with the U.S. Army in the Aleutian Islands campaign during 1943-44 and then in Europe as a mortar man with the 345th Infantry Regiment of the 87th Infantry Division. His significant decorations include the Bronze Star Medal, the Combat Infantryman Badge, the EAME Campaign Medal with five battle stars, and the World War II Victory Medal. Kenneth lives in Bradbury, California with his wife Elizabeth.

Sergeant Theodore J. Opilo was born in January 1923 in Coaldale, Pennsylvania. During World War II he was an Electrical Mechanic with the U.S. Army Air Corps 315th and 440th Airborne Troop Carrier Groups. His significant decorations include two Presidential Unit Citations, the EAME Campaign Medal with 5 battle stars and the World War II Victory Medal. Theodore resides in San Bernardino, California.

Corporal Ray L. Van Zanten was born in September 1924 in Newton, Iowa. In Europe he served in the U.S. Army with the 280th Field Artillery Battalion as a truck driver and forward observer. His significant decorations include the EAME Campaign Medal with four battle stars, the World War II Victory Medal and the American Campaign Medal. Ray resides in Apple Valley, California.

Technician Fifth Grade William R. Hahn was born in Culver City, California in October 1923. He was a rifleman with the U.S. Army 66th Armored Infantry Battalion and received the Silver Star Medal for gallantry in action near Hettstadt, Germany on 1 April 1945. His other significant decorations include the Combat Infantryman Badge, the Meritorious Unit Award, the EAME Campaign Medal with two battle stars, and the World War II Victory Medal. William resides in Los Angeles, California with his wife Madelyn.

Private First Class Reynaldo Chabolla was born in San Bernardino, California in July 1923. He deployed to Europe with the 457th Anti Aircraft Artillery Battalion and landed on Omaha in Normandy, France during the June 6-7 D-Day operations His significant decorations included the EAME Campaign Medal with five
battle stars, the World War II Victory Medal, and the American Campaign Medal. Reynaldo lives in San Dimas with Betty Lee, his wife of 71 years.

Private First Class Raymond D. Deveau was born in Los Angeles, California in October 1924. He served in Europe as a driver with the 564th Motor Ambulance Company. His significant decorations include the EAME Campaign Medal with five battle stars, the World War II Victory Medal and the Good Conduct Medal. Ray currently resides in Westminster, California with his wife Barbara.

Private First Class Anthony G. Gallardo was born in Gallup, New Mexico in August 1922. He parachuted into Normandy on D-Day with the U.S. Army 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 82nd Airborne Division. After recovering from serious wounds received later, he joined the 156th Infantry Regiment. His significant decorations include the Bronze Star Medal, the Purple Heart Medal, the EAME Campaign Medal with 3 battle stars, and the Combat Infantryman Badge. Anthony resides in Santa Fe Springs, California.

Private First Class Martin M. Lagin was born in New York, New York in January 1925. He served in Europe with the 304th Infantry Regiment of the 76th Infantry Division. He was seriously injured near Alsdorf Germany in February 1945 and had a long recuperation. His significant decorations include the Bronze Star Medal, the Purple Heart Medal, the Combat Infantryman Badge, and the EAME Campaign Medal with two battle stars. Martin resides in La Quinta, California with his wife Rhoda.

Private First Class Arthur M. Petersen was born in Mexico City, Mexico in March 1924. During World War II he served with the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 101st Airborne Division and parachuted into the St. Mere Eglise area of Normandy on D-Day. He was wounded in Holland and in Belgium. His significant decorations include the Bronze Star Medal, two Purple Heart Medals, the Combat Infantryman Badge, and the EAME Campaign Medal with 4 battle stars. Arthur resides in Santa Barbara, California with his wife Gloria.

Private First Class Felipe Rodriguez, Sr. was born in Kingsville, Texas, in March 1919. He served as a U.S. Army switchboard operator with the 358th Infantry Regiment of 90th Infantry Division and landed on Utah Beach in Normandy on D-Day plus 2. His significant decorations include the Bronze Star Medal, the Combat Infantryman Badge, the Presidential Unit Citation, the EAME Campaign Medal with four battle stars, and his unit received the French Croix de Guerre Fourragere. Felipe resides in Hacienda Heights, California.

Private First Class Herman Smith was born in Delhi, Louisiana in February 1924. He landed in Normandy, France shortly after D-Day in June 1944with the 979th Quartermaster Service Company supporting front line troops. His significant decorations included the EAME Campaign Medal with two battle stars, the World War II Victory Medal, and the Good Conduct Medal. Herman currently resides in Carson, California with his wife Blondean.

Private Leonard “Jerry” King was born in New York, New York in November 1922. He served in the U.S. Army Air Force in North Africa and Europe as a mechanic with the 312th Troop Carrier Squadron of the 349th Troop Carrier Group. His significant decorations include two Presidential Unit Citations, the EAME Campaign Medal with ten battle stars, the Army of Occupation Medal, and the World War II Victory Medal. He lives in Los Angeles, California.

San Diego, California, April 8, 2015

Mr. Fabrice Maïolino, Deputy Consul General of France in Los Angeles, bestowed the National Order of The Legion of Honor in the rank of Chevalier (Knight) on fourteen World War II US Army veterans at a ceremony at the San Diego Air & Space Museum on April 8, 2015.

The 14 veterans who were honored included:

Captain Jay F. Walker was born in St. Louis, Missouri in April 1923. He served as a B-17 pilot in the 546th Bomb Squadron of the 384th Bomb Group and completed 30 combat missions over occupied Europe. His significant decorations include two Distinguished Flying Crosses, 5 Air Medals, the Presidential Unit Citation, and the European African Middle Eastern (EAME) Campaign Medal with 3 battle stars. Jay resides in Carlsbad, California with his wife Theresa.

Captain William J. O’Leary was born in New York City, NY in January 1925. He was a B-17 pilot and flew 22 combat missions with the 547th Bomb Squadron of the 384th Bomb Group. His significant decorations include three Air Medals, the EAME Campaign Medal with 3 battle stars, and the Army of Occupation Medal. He resides in San Diego with his wife Elsie.

First Lieutenant Darrell D. Eichhoff was born in June 1923 in Piedmont, Oklahoma. Darrell completed 39 combat missions as a B-26 pilot with the 558th Bomb Squadron of the 387th Bomb Group. His significant decorations include the Distinguished Flying Cross, 7 Air Medals, the Presidential Unit Citation and the EAME Campaign Medal with 3 battle stars. Darrell and his wife of 69 years, Corinne, reside in Escondido, California.

Technical Sergeant Gilbert “Max” Foss was born May 1917 in Placentia, California. He served in Europe with the Headquarters Company, 326th Ordnance Battalion in General Patton’s 3rd Army. His significant decorations include the EAME Campaign Medal with three battle stars, the American Campaign Medal and the World War II Victory Medal. Max currently resides in San Marcos, California with his wife Louise.

Technical Sergeant Rudolph Villalobos was born June 1923 in Anaheim, California. In Europe he flew 32 combat missions as a B-17 Radio Operator and Gunner with the 8th Air Force, 94th Bomb Group and later in 1945 flew an additional 50 missions in the China-Burma-India Theater. His significant decorations include: the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Air Medal with silver oak leaf cluster, two Presidential Unit Citations, the EAME Campaign Medal with 4 battle stars, the Asiatic Pacific Campaign Medal, and the Chinese War Memorial Badge. Rudy and his wife, Maria Teresa, reside in Calexico, California.

Staff Sergeant George R. Leyva was born in Los Angeles, California in April 1923. He served as a B-17 Gunner with the 511th Bomb Squadron of the 351st Bomb Group and completed 32 combat missions. His significant decorations include: the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Air Medal with three oak leaf clusters, the EAME Campaign Medal with 2 battle stars. George and his wife Norma reside in Anaheim, California.

Staff Sergeant Thomas M. Rice was born in August 1921 in San Diego. He served as a squad leader with the 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 101st Airborne Division and jumped on D-Day. His significant decorations include the Bronze Star Medal, two Purple Hearts, the Combat Infantryman Badge, two Presidential Unit Citations, EAME Campaign Medal with 5 battle stars, and the French and Belgian Fourragères. He resides in Coronado, California with his wife Brenda.

Staff Sergeant Seichi Sakaida was born in O’okala, Hawaii in July 1922. He served in Italy and France with Company K of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team. His significant decorations include the Purple Heart Medal, the Combat Infantryman Badge, the Presidential Unit Citation, the EAME Campaign Medal with 4 battle stars and the Asia-Pacific Campaign Medal. He resides with his daughter in Rancho Santa Margarita, California.

Staff Sergeant Frank M. Wada was born in Redlands, CA in July 1921. Frank served with the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, “E” Company, in Italy and France. His significant decorations include the Bronze Star Medal, the Purple Heart Medal, the Combat Infantryman Badge, the Presidential Unit Citation, and the EAME Campaign Medal with 4 oak leaf clusters. Frank resides in Spring Valley, California.

In November 2011, the 442nd Regimental Combat Team was presented the Congressional Gold Medal at ceremonies in Washington D.C.

Corporal Sheldon D. Singer was born in Chicago, Illinois in March 1923. Sheldon served as a topographer/cartographer with the 391st Anti-Aircraft Artillery Automatic Weapons Battalion. His significant decorations include the EAME Campaign Medal with 4 battle stars, the American Campaign Medal, and the World War II Victory Medal. Sheldon and his wife Tillie currently reside in San Diego, California.

Technician Fifth Grade Malcolm Winslow was born in Baltimore, Maryland in February 1920. He served as a radio operator with the 318th Infantry Regiment of the 80th Infantry Division. His significant decorations include the Bronze Star Medal, the Combat Infantryman Badge, the Presidential Unit Citation, and the EAME Campaign Medal with four Battle Stars. He resides in San Diego with his wife Frances.

Private First Class Donald F. Breitenberg was born in Chicago, Illinois in March 1925. He served in Europe with the 56th Armored Infantry Battalion of the 12th Armored Division. His significant awards include the Purple Heart Medal, the Combat Infantryman Badge, and the EAME Campaign Medal with two battle stars. He resides in La Jolla, California with his wife Jeanne.

Private First Class Arthur W. Weldon was born in San Pedro, California in March 1925. During World War II he was assigned as a rifleman with the 30th Infantry Regiment of the 3rd Infantry Division. His significant awards include the Bronze Star Medal, the Purple Heart Medal, the Combat Infantryman Badge, the EAME Campaign Medal with two battle stars, and the Croix de Guerre unit award. Art and Evelyn, his wife of 72 years, live in San Diego, California.

Private Harold A. Roth was born in August 1924 in Illmo, Missouri. In Europe he served with the 359th Infantry Regiment of the 90th Infantry Division. His significant decorations include the Bronze Star Medal, the Combat Infantryman Badge, and the EAME Campaign Medal with 3 battle stars. He resides in San Diego, California with his wife Juanita.

Peoria, Arizona, April 7, 2015

Mr. Gerrit M. Steenblik, Honorary Consul of France in Arizona, bestowed the National Order of the Legion of Honor in the Rank of Chevalier (Knight) on eight World War II Arizona veterans at a ceremony held at the American Legion John J. Morris Post 92 in Peoria.

The eight veterans who were honored included:

Major Alfred R. Tyler served in World War II with the US Army as Battalion Sergeant Major and later as Adjutant, Air and Forward Observer with the 494th Armored Field Artillery Battalion, 12th Armored Division with service in France and Germany. His significant decorations include the Bronze Star Medal. He resides in Scottsdale with his wife, Mary.

Master Sergeant John M. Chittick served in World War II as a Combat Infantryman with the US Army, Service Company, 71st Infantry, 44th Infantry Division from 21 October to 12 May 1945 with service in France, Germany and Austria. His significant decorations include the Bronze Star Medal, Combat Infantry Badge, American Defense Service Ribbon, Good Conduct Medal and EAME Service Medal with three Bronze Stars. John resides in Scottsdale.

Staff Sergeant Howard G. King served in World War II with the US Army as a Combat Infantryman and Squad Leader with the Anti-tank Company of the 18th Infantry Regiment of the US Army’s 1st Division with service in France, Germany, Belgium, Sicily and Africa. His significant decorations include the Bronze Star Medal, two Purple Heart Medals, Good Conduct Medal and EAME Service Medal with one Silver Service Star and one Bronze Service Star. Howard resides in Tucson.

Technician 4th Grade Zenas A. Prust served in World War II as an Infantryman with the US Army 54th Armored Infantry Battalion, 10th Armored Division with service in France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Austria and Germany. His significant decorations include the Bronze Star Medal, Victory Medal, EAME Ribbon with four Bronze Stars, Good Conduct Medal and Combat Infantry Badge. Zenas resides in Tempe.

Technician 5th Grade Eugene W. Miller served in World War II with the US Army as a Field Lineman with the Headquarters and Service Company, 283rd 1st Engineers with service in France, Sicily, Italy and Germany. His significant decorations include the Good Conduct Medal and EAME Ribbon with one Bronze Star. Gene resides in Sun City West with his wife, Rita.

Technician 5th Grade Hugo A. Tringali served in World War II with the US Army as Artillery Combat with the 8th Infantry Division with service in France, Germany, Belgium and Luxembourg. His significant decorations include the Good Conduct Medal and EAME with four Bronze Stars. Hugo resides in Sun City West with his wife, Elsy.

Private First Class Benjamin Haber served in World War II with the US Army as a Dental Lab Technician and a Combat Scout with the US Army 5th Infantry Division with service in France and Germany. His significant decorations include the Bronze Star Medal, Purple Heart Medal, Combat Infantryman Badge, American Defense Service Ribbon, Good Conduct Medal, American Campaign Medal and EAME Service Medal. Ben resides in Peoria with his wife, Jayne.

Private First Class Donald B. Loomis served in World War II with the US Army as a Mortar Gunner with Headquarters Company, 2nd Battalion, 66th Armored Regiment, 2nd Armored Division in France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Holland and Germany. His significant decorations include the Purple Heart Medal and Good Conduct Medal. Don resides in Sun City West.

Orange, California, October 8, 2014

Mr. Fabrice Maïolino, Deputy Consul General of France in Los Angeles, bestowed the National Order of the Legion of Honor in the rank of Chevalier (Knight) on ten World War II US Veterans at a ceremony held at the Trinity Episcopal Church in Orange.

The ten veterans who were honored included:

First Lieutenant Robert B. Hastie was born in Lead, South Dakota in April 1924 and grew up in Kenosha, Wisconsin. He entered active duty in February 1944 and after pilot training deployed to Europe in July 1944 as a B-17 pilot in the 334th Bomb Squadron of the 95th Bomb Group. Bob completed 35 combat missions over occupied Europe then transitioned into Mosquitos and flew reconnaissance with the 654th Squadron of the 25th Bomb Group. His significant decorations include 5 Air Medals, two Presidential Unit Citations, the EAME Campaign Medal with 5 battle stars, the Polish Uprising Cross, and the Polish Merit for Warsaw. After the war Bob obtained a college degree and spent a long career in the oil pipeline management business including returning to France in 1955, to help rebuild European pipelines. He resides with his wife Bette in Huntington Beach, California.

First Lieutenant Leo R. Kubeska was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in July 1922. He entered active duty in October 1942 and after pilot training was deployed to Europe in July 1944 as a B-24 pilot with the 454th Bomb Group. Leo completed 14 combat missions in Germany, France and Romania, and was seriously wounded on a
mission in August 1944. He later transferred to the 327th MATS Squadron in Naples, Italy piloting C-47s and C-46s in the Mediterranean and African theaters. His significant decorations include the Purple Heart Medal, three Air Medals, the Distinguished Unit Badge, and the EAME Campaign Medal with 6 battle stars.
During his professional career he worked in the mortgage business for over 45 years and owned the Columbia Mortgage Company. Leo currently resides in Orange, California.

Master Sergeant Harold Schoenfeld was born in Brooklyn, New York in November 1924. He entered active duty in April 1943 and deployed to France in July 1944 where he joined the 90th Recon troop attached to the 90th Inf. Division as a radio operator. Harold was awarded the Bronze Star for valor during action in Blankenstein Germany on April 15, 1945. During combat in Bavaria his unit rescued British POW’s. His
significant decorations include the Bronze Star Medal, the French Croix de Guerre Unit Citation and the EAME Campaign Medal with 4 battle stars. After discharge from the service Harold joined the active reserves for a period of 12 years achieving the rank of Master Sergeant. After World War II, Harold spent a long career in the dry cleaning business with his brother-in-law. He and his wife Lila now reside in San Juan Capistrano, California.

Technical Sergeant Edward J. Goeppinger was born in Boone, Iowa in April 1925. He entered active duty in June 1943 and after basic and infantry training arrived in France in October 1944 with the 17th Armored Infantry Battalion of the 12th Armored Division. During part of his service he was under command of the First French Army. Edward’s unit captured the Dillingen Bridge over the Danube, hastening the liberation of the Dachau and Landsberg death camps. His significant decorations include the Bronze Star Medal, the Combat Infantryman Badge, the EAME Campaign Medal with 3 battle stars, the Army of Occupation Medal and various French Campaign medals. For many years after the war Ed worked in the aerospace industry, retiring as Corporate Vice President of Bourns, Inc. Ed and his wife Trudy reside in Riverside, California.

Technical Sergeant Junwo “Jimmy” Yamashita was born in Santa Ana, California in May 1924 and later moved with his parents to Overton, Nevada. In May 1943 he joined the Japanese American 442nd Regimental Combat Team (RCT) and in May 1944 deployed to Europe as part of the largest Atlantic convoy ever assembled. He served as a Platoon Sergeant first in Italy and then in Southern France. His significant decorations include the Bronze Star Medal, the Purple Heart Medal, the Combat Infantryman Badge, the Presidential Unit Citation and the EAME Campaign Medal with 5 battle stars. In November 2011, the 442nd Regimental Combat Team was presented the Congressional Gold Medal at ceremonies in Washington D.C. After the war Jimmy went to technical trade school and for many years was in the appliance repair business, owning a number of stores. He was instrumental in the establishment of the Americans of Japanese Ancestry World War II Memorial and is Educational project officer for the Echoes of Silence program to keep alive the legacy of American World War II Nisei veterans. Jimmy resides in Glendora, California with his wife Marian.

Corporal Fred M. Whitaker was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts July 1925. He enlisted in the U.S. Army in June 1943 and deployed to France in October 1944 with the 347th Infantry Regiment of the 87th Infantry Division. Combat took him into France, Germany, Belgium, Luxemburg and Czechoslovakia’s Sudetenland. His significant decorations include the Bronze Star Medal, The Purple Heart Medal, the Combat Infantryman Badge, the Distinguished Unit Citation for extraordinary heroism in the assault crossing of the Rhine River, and the EAME Campaign Medal with three Battle Stars. After the war Fred graduated with honors from Stanford University and later spent over 50 years selling Life, Health, and Group Insurance along with Financial Services. Fred and his wife Arlene reside in Villa Park, California.

Technician 5th Grade William I. Kott was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in April 1922 and was inducted into the U.S. Army in December 1942. He deployed to Europe in February 1945 and served in the Rhineland and Central Europe campaigns with the 165th Ordinance Battalion. William is a veteran of the Battle of the Bulge in the Ardennes and his unit was later involved in the liberation of the Buchenwald concentration camp. His significant decorations include the EAME Campaign Medal with 2 bronze stars, the American Campaign Medal, and the World War II Victory Medal. After the war Dr. Kott attended various colleges and obtained both dental and medical degrees. During a long career he specialized in Oral and Maxillo-facial surgery. William resides in Anaheim, California.

Private First Class Samiru Ikari was born in Tracy, California in August 1922. He was inducted into the U.S. Army in June 1943 and joined Company L of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team (RCT) in France in November 1944 during heavy fighting in the Vosges Mountains area. He later served in Italy. His significant decorations include the Bronze Star Medal, the Combat Infantryman Badge, two Presidential Unit Citations, and the EAME Campaign Medal with 3 battle stars. In November 2011 the 442nd Regimental Combat Team was presented the Congressional Gold Medal at ceremonies in Washington D.C. After the war Sam worked in the record manufacturing industry and later as a truck driver for Continental Airlines from where he retired. He resides in Rosemead, California.

Private First Class Robert F. Schneider was born in April 1925 in Buhl, Idaho but grew up in Los Angeles, California. He enlisted in the U.S. Army at 17 years of age and after training, deployed to Normandy, France in June 1944 as a replacement with the 357th Infantry Regiment of the 90th Infantry Division. He served as a platoon runner and later a telephone lineman. He was wounded near Périers, France. His significant decorations include the Bronze Star Medal, the Purple Heart Medal, the Combat Infantryman Badge, the Presidential Unit Citation, 2 Meritorious Unit Awards, the EAME Campaign Medal with 5 battle stars, and the French Croix De Guerre Unit Citation. After the war his professional career included 20 years service with the Los Angeles Police Department. He now resides in Tustin, California.

Private First Class Masayoshi Tsuida was born in San Pedro, California in October 1919. During World War II, he served in the U.S. Army, Company C, 100th Battalion, 442nd Regimental Combat Team (RCT). In October 1944, the 442nd RCT liberated the town of Biffontaine, France. In the town of Bruyeres, a monument was built by the townspeople in 1947 to honor the soldiers of the 100th Battalion, 442nd Regimental Combat Team who liberated their village, showed kindness and died in the Vosges forest. His significant decorations include the Bronze Star Medal, the Purple Heart Medal, the Combat Infantryman Badge, the Presidential Unit Citation, and the EAME Campaign Medal with 3 battle stars. In November 2011 the 442nd Regimental Combat Team was presented the Congressional Gold Medal at ceremonies in Washington D.C. After the war Masayoshi spent a long career in the commercial fishing business. He and his wife, Grace, reside in San Diego, California.

Los Angeles, California, May 26th, 2014

M. Axel Cruau, Consul General of France in Los Angeles, bestowed the National Order of The Legion of Honor in the rank of Chevalier (Knight) on three World War II US Army veterans : Staff Sergeant Norbert Cieslak,Corporal Reid Greer, Private First Class Julius Posner on Memorial Day, May 26th 2014.

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Staff Sergeant Norbert Cieslak, was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in June 1924. He served in World War II in Company A of the 65th Signal Battalion. At the age of 19, he was assigned with his 10-man squad to the 5th French Armored Division under the French First Army. With his French comrades-in-arms, he was involved in the famous Battle of Colmar, in Alsace. For outstanding heroism, his battalion received a letter from the Mayor of Colmar authorizing them to wear the official seal of the city.

Corporal Reid Greer, was born in Los Angeles, CA, in September 1924. He served in World War II in Company B of the 23rd Infantry Regiment. His company was involved in three campaigns in France: in the Northern part of France, in the Ardennes and in Rhineland. He was wounded in action in Germany the 17th of December 1944 and consequently received a Purple Heart Medal.

Private First Class Julius Posner, was born in Brooklyn, New York, in May 1920. He served in World War II in the 3rd Infantry Division, 39th Field Artillery. With his regiment, you helped liberate North Africa and especially the cities of Casablanca, Bizerte, Oran and Tunis.

He participated in the famous Battle of Al Alamein, which turned the tide in the North African Campaign and represented the first major offensive and victory against the Axis since the start of the war. After the invasion of Italy, he landed on August 15th, 1944, in Southern France. He was in combat in France from that day until February 1945. He helped liberate the city of Marseille and Nice as well as the Rhone Valley at the pursuit of the 19th German Army.

He received the Croix de Guerre for your heroic actions and The Reagan Library made a 90-minute DVD with an interview of his wartime and combat experience.

Chula Vista, California, February 27th, 2014

Fabrice Maïolino, Deputy Consul General of France in Los Angeles, bestowed the National Order of The Legion of Honor in the rank of Chevalier (Knight) on seven World War II US Army veterans : Colonel Caesar J. Benigno, Major Robert P. Barthelmess, Sergeant First Class Ted T. Wada, Staff Sergeant Melchor T. Rillera, Corporal James A. Reiss, Technician Fifth Grade Chris J. Zazas, Private First Class Howard Wachs

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Colonel Caesar J. Benigno was born in New York City in December 1925. He served in World War II in the Army Air Corps with the 452nd Bomb group as a B-17 gunner and radar jammer operator. Caesar stayed in the military and served in the Korean War, Vietnam War and received an “Up from the Ranks” commission to Captain in July 1964 and retired in August 1983 as a
Colonel after a distinguished 40-year Air Force career. His most notable decorations are the Legion of Merit, the Air Force Commendation Medal, the Air Medal with two Oak Leaf Clusters, the EAME Campaign Medal with three Bronze Stars, and the Presidential Unit Citation. Colonel Benigno and his wife Diane reside in San Diego, CA and Yuma, AZ.

Major Robert P. Barthelmess was born May 1922 in Portland, Oregon. During World War II he served as a B-24 pilot with the 328th Bomb Squadron of the 93rd Bomb Wing and completed 45 missions, far more than the average. Robert stayed in the military and retired from the U.S. Air Force in 1965 after a distinguished 21-year career. His significant decorations include the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Air Medal with six Oak Leaf Clusters, the Air Force Commendation Medal, the Air Force Outstanding Unit Award, and the EAME Campaign Medal. Bob and his wife Shirley reside in San Diego, CA.

Sergeant First Class Ted T. Wada was born in Redlands, California in February 1919 to Japanese immigrant parents. During World War II he served with the 442nd Regimental Combat Team K Company and was wounded in France and Italy. He later served in Japan with the 11th Airborne Division and in Korea with the 7th Army Division during the Korean War. His significant decorations include: the Bronze Star Medal, the Purple Heart Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster, the Combat Infantryman Badge, the Presidential Unit Citation, the EAME Campaign Medal, the Army of Occupation Medal-Japan, the United Nations Service Medal, the Korean Service Medal with 5 Bronze Stars, the Republic of Korea War Service Medal and various other campaign medals. In November 2011 he attended a special ceremony held at the U.S. Capital awarding his 442nd Regimental Combat Team unit the Congressional Gold Medal. Ted currently resides at the Veterans Home of California – Chula Vista.

Staff Sergeant Melchor T. Rillera was born in Naguilian, La Union, Philippines. His official records indicate he was born in January 1915 but the Rillera family claims it is 1908 as he lied about his age to enter the military under the upper age limit. Melchor served in World War II with the First Special Services Force, which was later integrated into the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 101st Airborne Division. His assaults include Normandy on D-Day, Southern France, Holland, and the famous actions at Bastogne, Belgium. His significant decorations include the Bronze Star Medal, the Purple Heart Medal with one Oak Leaf Cluster, the Combat Infantryman Badge, the Presidential Unit Citation, the Asia Pacific Campaign Medal, and the EAME Campaign Medal. Congress recently authorized the award of the Congressional Gold Medal to the First Special Services Force. A presentation ceremony is planned in the near future. Melchor resides in San Diego, CA.

Corporal James A. Reiss was born November 1925 in Detroit, Michigan. During World War II he served as a rifleman with the 423rd Infantry Regiment attached to the 106th Infantry Division, and was seriously wounded during the Battle of the Bulge where he was taken prisoner. His decorations of note include the Bronze Star Medal, the Purple Heart Medal, the POW Medal, the Combat Infantryman Badge, the EAME Campaign Medal, and various other campaign medals. Jim and his wife Jeanne reside in San Clemente, CA.

Technician Fifth Grade Chris J. Zazas was born in Des Moines, Iowa in July 1924. He served in World War II with the 22nd Infantry Regiment of the 4th Infantry Division, landed at Omaha Beach early on D-Day and participated in various heavy combat engagements before being captured by the SS after the Battle of the Bulge. He was wounded in the St. Lo area in July 1944. His significant decorations include the Purple Heart Medal, the POW Medal, the EAME Campaign Medal with two Battle Stars, the World War II Victory Medal and the American Campaign Medal. Chris and his wife Mary reside in La Mesa, CA.

Private First Class Howard Wachs was born in Des Moines, Iowa in May 1925. During World War II he served as a platoon runner with the 9th Infantry Regiment of the 2nd Infantry Division in the Normandy, Northern France and Rhineland campaigns. He suffered a severe concussion during the Battle of the Bulge. His significant decorations include the Bronze Star Medal, the Combat Infantryman Badge, the EAME Campaign Medal, the World War II Victory Medal and the American Campaign Medal. Harold resides in San Diego, CA.

Los Angeles, California, January 30th, 2014

Axel Cruau, Consul General of France in Los Angeles, bestowed the National Order of The Legion of Honor in the rank of Chevalier (Knight) on eleven World War II US Army veterans : Colonel A. Albert Restumn, Lieutenant Colonel Samuel W. Cathcart, Lieutenant Colonel Elmo Maiden, Captain Arthur Sherman, Technical Sergeant Murray Codman, Staff Sergeant John C. Knapp, Sergeant Richard OBrien, Staff Sergeant Leon Waldman, Technician 4th Grade Woodrow L. Lewis, Technician 5th Class Howard “Howie” Beach, Technician Fifth Grade Bruce N. Monkman

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Colonel A. Albert Restum was born in Allentown, Pennsylvania in June 1926. During World War II he served as an enlisted man in the U.S. Army as a rifleman with the 274th Infantry Regiment achieving the rank of Private First Class. He later received a commission through Air Force ROTC and retired from the U.S. Air Force in 1973. His significant decorations include the Bronze Star Medal, the Combat Infantryman Badge, the Army and Air Force Commendation Medals, and the EAME Campaign Medal with three battle stars. Albert resides in Los Angeles, CA.

Lieutenant Colonel Samuel W. Cathcart was born in Canute, Oklahoma in July 1924. He served in World War II with the U.S. Army 291st Regimental Combat Team attached to the 75th Infantry Division and achieving the rank of Staff Sergeant. Samuel was awarded the Silver Star Medal for valor during actions in the Colmar area of France on February 4, 1945. He later received a commission through Army ROTC and retired from the US Army Reserves in 1977. His significant decorations include the Silver Star Medal, the Purple Heart Medal, the Combat Infantryman’s Badge, the EAME campaign medal with 3 battle stars and various other campaign medals. Sam resides in Santa Barbara, CA.

Lieutenant Colonel Elmo Maiden was born in Kansas City, MO in July 1919. He served in the U.S. Army Air Corps as a B-24 Bomber pilot in World War II with the 786th Squadron of the 466 Bomb Group in England. He retired from the US Air Force Reserves in 1979. His significant decorations include, the Air Medal with 6 Oak Leaf Clusters, the European African Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with four battle stars, the Presidential Unit Citation and various other campaign medals, Elmo and his wife Dorsie reside in Canoga Park, CA.

Captain Arthur Sherman was born in Cleveland, Ohio in July 1921. During World War II he served in the U.S. Army Air Corps as a bombardier/navigator with the 464th Bomb Group in Italy until an in flight flak injury caused him to be reclassified as an intelligence officer. His significant decorations include the Bronze Star Medal, the Purple Heart Medal, the Air Medal, the Presidential Unit Citation, the EAME Campaign Medal with 4 battle stars and various other campaign medals. Art lives in Encino, CA

Technical Sergeant Murray Codman was born in December 1922 at Coney Island, New York. He served in the U.S. Army Air Corps as a Flight Engineer and Top Turret Gunner on the B-17 during World War II with the 710th Squadron of the 447th Bomb Group. His significant decorations include the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Air Medal with Five Oak Leaf Clusters, the Presidential Unit Citation, the EAME Campaign Medal and various other campaign medals. Murray resides in Los Angeles, CA.

Staff Sergeant John C. Knapp was born in April 1920 in Bridgeport Connecticut. He served in the U.S. Army with the 943rd Ordnance Company and later the 114th Infantry Regiment of the 44th Infantry Division during World War II. John was awarded the Silver Star medal for gallantry in action on 15 February 1945 near Brandelfingerhoff Farm, France. His significant decorations include the Silver Star Medal, two Bronze Star Medals, the Combat Infantryman Badge, the EAME Campaign Medal with two battle stars, and several other campaign medals. John resides in Brea, CA.

Sergeant Richard OBrien was born in Wessington South Dakota in September 1924. During World War II he served in the U.S. Army as a radio operator with the 137th Infantry Regiment attached to the 35th Infantry Division. His significant decorations include the Bronze Star Medal, the Purple Heart Medal, the Combat Infantry Badge, and the EAME Campaign Medal with 5 battle stars. Richard and his wife Pat reside in Seal Beach, CA.

Staff Sergeant Leon Waldman was born in the Bronx, New York in August 1924. He served in the U.S. Army Air Corps as a B-17 gunner in the 483rd Bomb Group attached to the 15th Air Force during World War II. His significant decorations include the Air Medal with 4 Oak Leaf Clusters, the EAME campaign medal with 4 battle stars, the Presidential Unit Citation, and various other campaign medals. Leon resides in Sherman Oaks, CA.

Technician 4th Grade Woodrow L. Lewis was born in Rochester, New York in October 1922. During World War II he served in the U.S. Army with the Anti Tank Company of the 291st Infantry Regiment attached to the 75th Infantry Division. His significant decorations include the EAME campaign medal with 3 battle stars, the Combat Infantryman Badge, the World War II Victory Medal and the American Campaign Medal. Woodrow and his wife Glenda reside in Newport Beach, CA.

Technician 5th Class Howard “Howie” Beach was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in June 1925. He served with the U.S. Army 9th Recon Cavalry Troop of the 9th Infantry Division during World War II. Howard was awarded the Silver Star Medal for gallantry in action near Zweifall, Germany on October 12, 1944. His significant decorations include the Silver Star Medal, the EAME campaign medal with 5 battle stars and various other military medals. Howard and his wife Murphy reside in La Mirada, CA.

Technician Fifth Grade Bruce N. Monkman was born in Winnett, Montana in March 1921. During World War II he served in the U.S. Army with the 9th Field Artillery Battalion of the 3rd Infantry Division. His significant decorations include the EAME Campaign Medal with 10 battle stars, the Presidential Unit Citation, the French Croix de Guerre fourragiere unit award and various other campaign medals. Bruce and his wife Nancy reside in Reseda, CA.

Los Angeles, California, November 9th, 2013


The National Order of The Legion of Honor in the rank of Chevalier (Knight) was bestowed to World War II veterans Tech Sergeant Tokuji Yoshihashi, Staff Sergeant Harry H. Kanada, Staff Sergeant Hiroshi Nishikubo, Sergeant Don S. Miyada, Sergeant Fumio "Steve" Shimizu, Sergeant Takashi "Frank" Sugihara, Sergeant Harry H. Yoshimura, Corporal Noboru "Don" Seki, Private First Class George S. Kanatani Private First Class Makoto "James" Ogawa and Private First Class Takashi Wada, all U.S. Army. The medals were bestowed by Mr. Fabrice Maiolino, Deputy Consul General of France in Los Angeles.

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Tech Sergeant Tokuji Yoshihashi was born in Pasadena, California in January 1923. During World War II he served with Company A of the 100th Battalion of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team. His significant military decorations include the Bronze Star Medal, the Combat Infantryman Badge and the EAME Campaign medal. His unit was presented the Congressional Gold Medal at a ceremony in Washington D.C. in November 2011. Tokuji resides in San Gabriel

Staff Sergeant Harry H. Kanada was born in Honolulu, Hawaii in January 1918. D During World War II he served with Company K of the 100th Battalion of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team. His significant military decorations include the Bronze Star Medal, the Purple Heart Medal, the Combat Infantryman Badge and the EAME Campaign medal. His unit was presented the Congressional Gold Medal at a ceremony in Washington D.C. in November 2011. Harry resides in Los Angeles.

Staff Sergeant Hiroshi Nishikubo was born in Clarksburg, California in November 1921. During World War II he served with Company L of the 100th Battalion of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team. His significant military decorations include the Bronze Star Medal, the Purple Heart Medal, the Combat Infantryman Badge, the EAME Campaign medal and the Distinguished Unit Badge. His unit was presented the Congressional Gold Medal at a ceremony in Washington D.C. in November 2011. Hiroshi resides in Los Angeles.

Sergeant Don S. Miyada was born in Oceanside, California in May 1925. During World War II he served with Company A of the 100th Battalion of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team. His significant military decorations include the Combat Infantryman Badge, the EAME Campaign medal and the Distinguished Unit Badge. His unit was presented the Congressional Gold Medal at a ceremony in Washington D.C. in November 2011. Don resides in Westminster, CA.

Sergeant Fumio "Steve" Shimizu was born in Kona, Hawaii in April 1920. During World War II he served with Company F of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team. His significant military decorations include the Bronze Star Medal, the Purple Heart Medal, the Combat Infantryman Badge, the EAME Campaign medal and the Distinguished Unit Badge. His unit was presented the Congressional Gold Medal at a ceremony in Washington D.C. in November 2011. Steve resides in Laguna Woods.

Sergeant Takashi "Frank" Sugihara was born in Los Angeles, California in January 1921. During World War II he served with Cannon Company of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team. His significant military decorations include the Bronze Star Medal, the Combat Infantryman Badge, the EAME Campaign medal, and the Distinguished Unit Badge. His unit was presented the Congressional Gold Medal at a ceremony in Washington D.C. in November 2011. Frank resides in Tustin.

Sergeant Harry H. Yoshimura was born in Torrington, Wyoming in March 1922. During World War II he served with Company A of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team. His significant military decorations include the Bronze Star Medal, the Combat Infantryman Glider Badge, the EAME Campaign medal and the Distinguished Unit Badge. His unit was presented the Congressional Gold Medal at a ceremony in Washington D.C. in November 2011. Harry resides in Bellflower.

Corporal Noboru "Don" Seki was born in Honolulu, Hawaii in December 1923. During World War II he served with Company L of the 100th Battalion of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team. His significant military decorations include the Bronze Star Medal, the Combat Infantryman Badge, the EAME Campaign medal and the Distinguished Unit Badge. His unit was presented the Congressional Gold Medal at a ceremony in Washington D.C. in November 2011. Don resides in Long Beach.

Private First Class George S. Kanatani was born in Redlands, California in May 1918. During World War II he served with Company A of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team. His significant military decorations include the Bronze Star Medal, the Purple Heart Medal, the Combat Infantryman Badge, the EAME Campaign medal and the Distinguished Unit Badge. His unit was presented the Congressional Gold Medal at a ceremony in Washington D.C. in November 2011. George resides in Redlands.

Private First Class Makoto "James" Ogawa was born in Riverside, California in October 1923. During World War II he served with Company C of the 100th Battalion of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team. His significant military decorations include the Combat Infantryman Badge, the EAME Campaign medal, the Presidential Unit Citation and the Distinguished Unit Badge. His unit was presented the Congressional Gold Medal at a ceremony in Washington D.C. in November 2011. James resides in Gardena.

Private First Class Takashi Wada was born in Sanger, California in February 1919. During World War II he served with Company L of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team. His significant military decorations include the Bronze Star Medal, the Purple Heart Medal, the Combat Infantryman Badge, the EAME Campaign medal and the Distinguished Unit Badge. His unit was presented the Congressional Gold Medal at a ceremony in Washington D.C. in November 2011. Takashi resides in Torrance.

Hawthorne, California, June 27th, 2013

The National Order of The Legion of Honor in the rank of Chevalier (Knight) was bestowed to World War II veterans Technical Sergeant Rudy Acosta, Technical Sergeant Paul J. "Jim" Pietsch, Jr., Private First Class Takeo L. Kingi , Private First Class David W. Lester , Private First Class Seiji Oshiro and Private John R. "Russell" Hunter, all U.S. Army. The medals were bestowed by Mr. Axel Crau, Consul General of France in Los Angeles.

Technical Sergeant Rudy Acosta was born in El Paso, Texas. He served in World War II as an aerial gunner on B-24 bombing missions with the 449th Bomb Group of the 15th Air Force. His campaigns included Northern France, Normandy, Rome-Arno and the Balkans. His significant decorations include the Air Medal with 3 OLC, The EAME Campaign medal and various other campaign medals. He resides in Oak Hills, CA.

Technical Sergeant Paul J. "Jim" Pietsch, Jr., was born and raised in the Los Angeles area. He served in World War II as an anti-tank gun commander with the 318th Infantry Regiment. His campaigns included Northern France, the Ardennes, Rhineland and Central Europe. His significant decorations include the Bronze Star medal with 1 OLC, the Combat Infantryman Badge, the EAME Campaign medal with 4 Battle Stars and various other campaign medals. He resides in Atascadero, CA.

Private First Class Takeo L. Kingi was born in Pensacola, Florida. He served in World War II as a rifleman with the 100th Infantry Battalion of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, the most decorated unit of its size in World War II. His campaigns include Southern France, Po-Valley, Northern Apennines and the Rhineland. His significant military decorations include the Bronze Star, the Combat Infantryman Badge, the EAME campaign medal and several other campaign medals. He was awarded the Congressional Gold medal in a special ceremony at the US Capitol in November 2011. Takeo resides in Los Angeles, CA.

Private First Class David W. Lester as born and raised in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. He served in World War II as a Combat Engineer with the 30th Infantry Division, and his campaigns included Northern France, the Ardennes and the Rhineland. His significant decorations include the Bronze Star Medal with one Oak Leaf Cluster, the Purple Heart, the Combat Infantryman Badge, the European African Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with three battle stars. He resides in Costa Mesa, CA.

Private First Class Seiji Oshiro was born and raised on Oahu, Hawaii. Her served in World War II on an anti-tank gun crew with the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, the most decorated unit of its size in World War II. His campaigns include Southern France, Rome-Arno, Northern Apennines, Po Valley and the Rhineland. His significant decorations include the Bronze Star Medal, the Purple Heart Medal, the Combat Infantryman Badge, the EAME Campaign Medal with 1 silver star and arrowhead, the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal, and various other campaign medals. He was awarded the Congressional Gold medal in a special ceremony at the US Capitol in November 2011. Seiji resides in Huntington Beach, CA.

Private John R. "Russell" Hunter was born and raised in New York City. He served in World War II with Battery A of the 115th Anti-Aircraft Artillery Gun Battalion. His campaigns include Ardennes, Central Europe and the Rhineland. His significant decorations include the EAME Campaign medal, the World War II Victory Medal and the Good Conduct Medal. Russell resides in Beverly Hills, CA.

Green Valley, Arizona, June 16th, 2013

The National Order of The Legion of Honor in the rank of Chevalier (Knight) was bestowed to World War II veterans Privates First Class Marvin M. Poppe, Gerald M. Sherman, and James C. Sullivan, all U.S. Army. The medals were bestowed by Mr. Gerrit M. Steenblik, Honorary Consul of France for Arizona.

Private First Class Marvin M. Poppe was born in Detroit, Michigan in July 1925 and spent his childhood there. Poppe was deployed to Normandy France in July 1944 as a replacement machine gunner with the 120th Regiment of the 30th Infantry Division. His significant decorations include the Bronze Star, the Combat Infantrymans Badge, the Belgian Fourragierre, the EAME Campaign Medal with 5 battle stars, and various other campaign medals. After the war Marvin had a variety of jobs before joining the General Motors Central Office where he remained for 26 years until retirement in 1980. He moved to Green Valley Arizona in 1984, and after two failed marriages moved to the La Posada Retirement Community.

Private First Class Gerald M. Sherman was born in Chicago, Illinois in November 1925. He graduated from High School in 1944, and was inducted into US Army in the same year. Gerald saw combat service in The Battle of Colmar Pocket at Colmar, Alsace France, and in Schleiden, Germany where he was wounded and lost his right leg below the knee. His decorations include the Bronze Star, Combat Infantryman Badge, the Purple Heart, and a Good Conduct medal. After the war, Jerry was in the used machine tool business with his father and brother for over 40 years. In 1947 he married Reva, his woman of valor and wife of 65 wonderful years. Together they were blessed with 5 wonderful children: Harriet, Ira, Hess, Annette, and Neal. He resides in Tucson, AZ.

Private First Class James C. Sullivan was born in Seattle, Washington in August 1923 and spent most of his youth in the Bay Area of Northern California. The war started while he was at Stanford University and he was inducted into the Army in New York City in March 1943. His significant decorations include the Combat Infantryman Badge, the EAME Campaign Medal with 3 battle stars, the American Campaign Medal and the World War II Victory Medal. After graduating from Stanford he worked 34 years for Pacific Telephone. He and his wife Gerry have 4 children, 8 grand kids and 6 great grand kids. Jim has put the military in his past, choosing instead to direct his life to Peace, Love and Oneness with all his brothers and sisters on this planet

Denver, Colorado, May 24, 2013

The National Order of The Legion of Honor in the rank of Chevalier (Knight) was bestowed to World War II veterans 1st Lt John Williams U.S. Army Air Corps and Technical Sergeant Wilber Brunger U.S. Army, USA. The medals were bestowed by Jeffrey Richards, Esq., Honorary Consul of France in Denver.

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1st Lt John Williams U. S. Army Air Corps born on 3 March 1921 in Oconee IL John and his crew, #48 flew their first combat mission to La Broye, Fr on Christmas Eve 1943.
His significant military awards include The WWII Victory Medal, European African Middle East Theater Ribbon with battle star, Air Medal with 3 clusters, and the Distinguished Flying Cross. He later joined United Air Lines as a Radio and Electronics mechanic. John and his wife of 68 years have 5 children, 10 grandchildren and 3 great grandchildren.

Technical Sergeant Wilber (Bill) Brunger U. S. Army was born on 25 Apr 1923 in Denver, CO and graduated from South High School in Denver, Class of 1940.
He was a platoon Sgt and entered combat with Company B, 1st Battalion, 289th Regiment, 75th Infantry Division on 24 December 1944 in the Battle of the Bulge. Then to Alsace-Lorraine with the US 7th Army under the 1st French Army. Bills significant military awards include the Combat Infantry Badge, Bronze Star with V and three clusters, Good Conduct, American Campaign European-African-Middle East with three battle stars, WWII Victory and French Campaign Rhine ET Danube Medal. Bill and his wife of 33 years Janet enjoy Bill’s 5 children. 7 grandchildren and 5 great grandchildren.

San Diego, September 14th, 2012

Consul Gen. Axel Cruau bestowed the highest honor with which France honors those who fought for freedom: the legion of honor ; to Master Sergeant John Grana and Private First Class John D’Agostino, Jr.

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Master Sergeant John Grana was born in Waukegan, Illinois in May 1915. Staff Sergeant Grana received the Bronze Star Medal for meritorious actions on August 20, 1944 and his regiment received the Croix de Guerre unit award for actions around Mortain, France. In 1946 he married Teresa Mattera and they had one son, Richard. His significant military decorations include two Bronze Star medals, the Expert Combat Infantryman Badge, the Army Commendation Medal, and the Vietnam Service Medal. John and Teresa moved to Carlsbad, California in 1982 where he did longterm volunteer work with the Red Cross at nearby Camp Pendleton.


Private First Class John D’Agostino, Jr.
was born in Geneva, New York in April 1917 and spent his childhood there. His significant decorations include the Bronze Star Medal, the Purple Heart, the Combat Infantryman Badge, and several campaign medals. In 1946 he married Avis Murphy and they had two children, a son and a daughter. He retired in 1982 from the White Sands Missile Range and has resided in the San Diego area for over 20 years.

American Legion Hollywood Post 43, August 18th, 2012

The eleven World War II veterans listed below from Southern California and Arizona have been awarded the Legion of Honor medal in the rank of Chevalier (Knight).
The award is the highest honor France bestows on its citizens and foreign nationals.

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The presentations were made by David Martinon, who was the Consul General of France in Los Angeles until September 3rd, 2012. The Ceremony was held on August 18th at the American Legion Hollywood Post 43, 2035 North Highland Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90068.

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Captain Carroll Elliott was born in Danville, Illinois in November 1921. He served in the US. Army during World War II with the 114th Infantry Regiment of the 44th Infantry Division in France and Germany rising to the rank of Platoon Commander. His significant decorations include the Silver Star Medal, the Bronze Star medal, the Combat Infantryman Badge, and 12 campaign and service medals. Captain Elliott was recalled to active duty during the Korean War. He resides in Tucson, Arizona.

Captain Michael Wales was born in Troy, New York in March 1919. He served in the US Army as a Company Commander of the 504th and 516th Military Police Battalion, 7th Army in various combat campaigns in Italy, France and Germany from 1944 to 1945. His significant decorations include the Bronze Star Medal, two Purple Hearts, the Combat Infantryman Badge, three campaign medals and the Presidential Unit Citation. He now resides in Rancho Mirage, California.

Staff Sergeant Morton Schecter was born in Cambridge, Ohio in July 1923. He served in the US Army Air Corps in England as a B-24 tail gunner with the 8th Air Force 467th Bomb Group and flew more than 35 missions over France and Germany that destroyed many enemy targets. His significant decorations include the Distinguished Flying Cross, four Air Medals, and four campaign medals. He currently lives in Northridge, California.

Staff Sergeant Albert Schutzer was born in Bridgeport, Connecticut in 1922. He went into combat in Southern France as a US Army infantryman with the 410th Infantry Regiment, 103rd Infantry Division. He was seriously wounded in an enemy counterattack near Schillersdorf, France. His significant decorations include the Purple Heart, the Bronze Star Medal, the Combat Infantryman Badge and several campaign medals. He lives in Laguna Woods, California.

Staff Sergeant Murray Shapiro was born in Los Angeles California in July 1923. He experienced first hand combat during the Battle of the Bulge while assigned to the US Army 112th Infantry Regiment of the 28th Infantry Division. His significant decorations include the Bronze Star Medal, the Combat Infantryman Badge, three French decorations while attached to the French First Army, and several campaign medals. He resides in Chatsworth, California.

Sergeant Bernard H Fink was born in 1926 in Brooklyn N.Y. He first saw action two weeks before the Ardennes Offensive as a gunner with the 756th Tank Battalion attached to the 3rd Infantry Division. He later helped liberate French forces trapped in the Colmar Pocket. His significant decorations include the Purple Heart, The French Croix De Guerre, the Presidential Unit Citation and several campaign medals. He makes his home in San Diego, California.

Sergeant Gregory Melikian was born in New York City in July 1924. He served as a high-speed radio operator with the US Army Signal Corps assigned to Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Forces (SHAEF) in France and later Germany.
He was involved in transmitting messages of the German surrender on May 7, 1945. His decorations include the European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal, the American Campaign Medal, the World War II Victory Medal, and the Meritorious Unit Award. He makes his home in Phoenix, Arizona.

Corporal Floyd Brooks was born in Indianapolis, Indiana in March 1925. He was assigned to the HQ Battery of 230th Field Artillery Battalion in the US Army, which provided crucial support to the 29th and 30th Infantry Divisions in the breakout at St Lo and at Mortain, France and later during the “Battle of the Bulge” Ardennes offensive. His decorations include the Bronze Star Medal, the Combat Infantryman Badge, the Belgian Fourragiere and several campaign and service medals.
He lives in Nuevo, California.

Private First Class Justiniano Baca was born July 1925 in Magdalena, New Mexico. He served in France with the US Army 317th Infantry Regiment assigned to the 80th Infantry Division and saw action in Northern France, the Ardennes and in Germany. His significant decorations include the Bronze Star, the Purple Heart with one Oak Leaf Cluster, the Combat Infantryman’s Badge and several campaign medals. He currently resides in Cherry Valley, California. Private First Class George Ciampa was born in Boston, Massachusetts in 1925. He landed on D-Day and served in major battles in France, Belgium and Germany while with the US Army 607th Graves Registration Company. His duty was gathering and burying the dead every day for eleven consecutive months. His significant decorations include the European- African- Middle Eastern Campaign medal with 5 battle stars, French Croix de Guerre w/Palm unit award, and the Meritorious Unit Award. He makes his home in Torrance, California.

Private First Class George Ciampa was born in Boston, Massachusetts in 1925. He landed on D-Day and served in major battles in France, Belgium and Germany while with the US Army 607th Graves Registration Company. His duty was gathering and burying the dead every day for eleven consecutive months. His significant decorations include the European- African- Middle Eastern Campaign medal with 5 battle stars, French Croix de Guerre w/Palm unit award, and the Meritorious Unit Award. He makes his home in Torrance, California.

Private First Class Glenn Fuller was born in Cleveland, Ohio in 1925. He served in France with the US Army 291st Infantry Regiment attached to the 75th Infantry Division. His duties involved mines weeping and demolition work. His significant decorations include the Bronze Star, the Combat Infantryman Badge, the European- African- Middle Eastern Campaign medal with 3 battle stars and several other campaign medals. He lives in Rancho Bernardo, California.

Dernière modification : 09/08/2016

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