In order to express France’s eternal gratitude to those who liberated it from oppression from 1944-45, the Consul General of France in Atlanta, Georgia — Denis Barbet — will bestow the Legion of Honor up on seven American World War II Veterans from North Carolina in a ceremony Feb. 3 at 2 p.m. at the State Capitol in Raleigh.
Founded by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1802, the National Order of the Legion of Honor is the highest honor in France. It recognizes eminent services to the French Republic. Foreign nationals who have served France or the ideals it upholds may receive a distinction from the Legion of Honor. American veterans who risked their lives during World War II and who fought on French territory qualify to be decorated as Knights of the Legion of Honor. Veterans must have fought in one of the four main campaigns of the Liberation of France: Normandy, Provence, Ardennes or Northern France. Recipients of this honor are designated by the President of the Republic François Hollande.
The following veterans have all confirmed their presence. They will receive this award in recognition of their courage:
– Harold L Eatman from Matthews, NC (Technical Sergeant, Headquarters Company, 3rd Battalion, 513th Parachute Infantry)
– Fernnie C Letchworth from Sharpsburg, NC (Staff Sergeant, Headquarters Battery, 602nd Glider Artillery Battalion)
– James D Seitzer from Chapel Hill, NC (Sergeant, Company E; 324th Infantry Regiment; 44th Infantry Division)
– Julien G Highsmith from Brasstown, NC (Seaman First Class, Landing Ship Tank 503)
– Charles Di Maria from Greensboro, NC (Private First Class, Battery C, 633rd Anti- Aircraft Artillery Battalion)
– James M Hamby from Valdese, NC (Private First Class, Headquarters Battery, 29th Field Artillery Battalion)
– Donald R Judd from Burlington, NC (Private First Class, 36th Infantry Division)
In addition, Mrs. Candy Bernard will be present to receive the medal on behalf of her late father, Leon E. Bernard (First Lieutenant, 93rd Bomb group, 8th Air Force).
The ceremony will be held in the House Chamber of the State Capitol, located at 1 E. Edenton Street, Raleigh, North Carolina, 27601. Upon request, this ceremony is open to the media, after which the veterans and the Consul General will be available for interviews.