WWII 4ID Vet John A. Worthington received the French Legion of Honor Medal


RALEIGH, NC — 4th Infantry Division WWII veteran Sergeant John A. Worthington who served with L Company 3-12 IN received the French Legion of Honor Medal along with 9 other North Carolina veterans.

For six decades, they have felt their own nation's gratitude for their service during World War II. On Tuesday February 28th, the veterans from North Carolina were showered with the thanks of the country whose people they risked their lives to free.

In a ceremony at the old State Capitol building, with their wives, children, and great-grandchildren looking on, they stood when their names were called, just as they had as young recruits or draftees whose government needed their strength all those years before.

But this time, it was to be recognized for their valor and get inducted as knights - chevaliers - of the French Legion of Honor.

"Gentleman, you are true heroes," Pascal Le Deunff, the consul general of France in Atlanta, told the men before he pinned red-ribboned medals on their breasts. "You will be our heroes forever. We the French will never forget what you did to restore our freedom."

Le Deunff said his own grandfather, a member of the French resistance, was killed by German forces during the war.

"He would have loved to meet you," he said.                                    (Pictured Below) Pascal Le Deunff

Founded by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1802, the National Order of the Legion of Honor recognizes service to the French republic. In presenting the award, Le Deunff was acting on behalf of French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

To be eligible for the award, a veteran must have fought on French territory in one or more of the four main campaigns of the liberation of France: Normandy, southern France, northern France and the Ardennes. The award is given only to living veterans.

In recent years, French government representatives have presented hundreds of the awards to former American service members. Le Deunff said he holds at least one such ceremony a week somewhere around the country, in an effort to cite as many eligible veterans as possible.    

Honors have been bestowed in recent weeks at ceremonies in Washington, D.C., Virginia, Ohio and Just as they were allies then, Le Deunff said, France and America are allies now, with terrorists as a common enemy. Values the two countries share, he said, serve as a moral compass for each.

"Long live the United States," Le Deunff said, "and Vive la France."

At a gathering after the ceremony hosted by family and friends, John received congratulations from those who could not attend the packed ceremonial room of the Old State House. Bernard Marie, a Carolinas Chapter member and a Frenchmen who was 5 years old on June 6, 1944 gave a moving recount of that day and expressed his gratitude. He was joined by 4IDA PNP Rick and Patty Adams.

(Pictured  L - R) Bernard L. Marie, John A. Worthington, and Richard J. Adams




John is pictured with his wife Thelma and (below) with son Johnny before and after the ceremony