Bill Capo / Eyewitness News
Email: | Twitter: @billcapo

NEW ORLEANS -- Winnie Ancar has scrap books he filled with memories about World War II.

'I don't know what happend yesterday, but I know what happened in World War Two,' said Ancar, an 89-year-old Plaquemines Parish resident.

Seventy years ago, the young black soldier got a lesson in race relations when he arrived in England.

'When we got to England, the mayor of the town came on a big loudspeaker,' Ancar said. 'He said this is not America. There's no segregation here. We're here for one purpose -- to fight Hitler.'

Winnie could speak French and was sent to France as a translator, helping find bases for the troops.

'I went with the captain, and whoever owned the building, I translate the language that we were going to take that for our quarters.'

He was an infantryman, sharpshooter, truck driver and guarded German prisoners. But when he returned to America, he said black soldiers were kept aboard ship while whites celebrated ashore.

'We could hear the noise and everything going on. They waited until midnight to let us get off. Midnight, 'OK men, the bus is waiting to take you to your separation center.''

The Ancars saw an Eyewitness News report on the French government bestowing the Legion of Honor, their top award, on American GIs from World War II, and they wondered whether Winnie qualified.

So I got in touch with the French Consulate, and the process is started.

'We will file this application very quickly,' said Consul General Jean-Claude Brunet in New Orleans. 'And I'm expecting in a few months to get confirmation of the Legion of Honor award.'

'Merci beaucoup. I'm glad that you give me that,' Ancar said to the French government in a statement half in French, half in English.

French Consul Brunet encourages other American GIs who served in France during World War II to contact the consulate in New Orleans about the Legion of Honor award.

Read or Share this story: