French government awards Legion Of Honor medals to 17 La. WWII vets

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wwltv.com

Posted on June 6, 2014 at 5:18 PM

Bill Capo / Eyewitness News
Email: bcapo@wwltv.com | Twitter: @billcapo

The huge World War II Museum hall was packed as the French Legion of Honor was awarded to 17 World War II veterans from Louisiana.

"I'm very proud, and I think about the ones that didn't come back," said Gene Lussan from New Orleans.

Even after seven decades, their memories of D-Day and the months after are still fresh with horrific scenes of battle.

"Terrible, bad, see guys been mowed down and stuff like that," recalled Placide Tamporello. "I was in water up to my neck with bandoliers, my AAR, and all that."

"Right after D-Day I came in, and I was wounded in Normandy," said Randy Richmond.

"I can remember going ashore," said Roland Chiasson of Metairie. "I was a demolition man."

"Six days after D-Day we went in," said Randolph Olano of Belle Chasse. "I was in tanks. It must have been horrible? It was, it was."

Their courage in horrific conditions has never been forgotten by the country they helped liberate.

"Thank you for what you have done, say to the U.S. veterans, thank you for what you have done," said French Consul General Jean Claude Brunet.

"I landed with the Second Armored Division, under Patton, George Patton," said Herman Torres of Donaldsonville. "To receive this medal today, what does it mean to you? I think it's an honor."

"There was a lot more to Normandy than just D-Day, " explained Julius Ouder, of Slidell. "D-Day was the big day, but Normandy was a large area."

There were lots of things for visitors to do as the National World War II Musuem marked the 70th anniversary of D-Day, including being able to walk aboard a recreation of a Higgins Boat, the landing craft used at D-Day. The lessons learned here say the veterans of that time are still relevant today.

"They should think that freedom is not free, and to get to freedom, you've got to sacrifice, and that's what a lot of us did," said Warren Dufrene, of Cutoff.

"There's too many people die in a war," concluded Winnie Ancar, of Diamond. "We shouldn't have any more wars, but there will always be wars, I know that."

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