10 WWII veterans received the Legion of Honor in San Diego [fr]

On July 26th 2016, France bestowed the National Order of The Legion of Honor in the rank of Chevalier on ten World War II US Army veterans at the San Diego Veterans Museum and Memorial Center,

The Government of France bestowed the National Order of The Legion of Honor in the rank of Chevalier on ten World War II US Army veterans at the San Diego Veterans Museum and Memorial Center, on July 26th 2016. The award is the highest honor France bestows on its citizens and foreign nationals.

The presentation of the awards were made by Mr. Christophe Lemoine, Consul General of France in Los Angeles.

The 10 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.

Dernière modification : 28/07/2016

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