D-Day Conneaut 2017: Veterans of WWII presented the French Legion of Honor
Consul general of France in Chicago Vincent Floreani made a special trip to Conneaut, OH on Lake Erie on Saturday, August 19th, to present the Legion of Honor to 4 Veterans of WWII. He was accompanied by Josh Knerly, Honorary Consul of France in Cleveland. State Representatives John Patterson (OH) and Parke Wentling (PA) were also in attendance.
The four veterans awarded the French Legion of Honor are: Ralph P. Avery from Claverack (NY), John Durisko from Hermitage (PA), Mr. Charles E. Rudler from Linesville (PA) and Harry F. Swartz from Fostoria (OH).
Mr. AVERY entered active duty in March 1943 at age 19. Mr. He served as Gunners Mate in the Navy. He was assigned to the Landing Craft Tank 571 where he was the only crewman on board tending heavy weapons.
In the early morning of June 6, loaded with tanks, his LCT set forth towards Normandy. Mr. AVERY and other crewmen were able to unload onto the beach the remaining material that was not lost at sea. When they returned to England, their boat was bringing back injured and dead soldiers. For weeks Mr. AVERY and his comrades, would go back and forth bringing essential supplies to the troops and ferrying back wounded men and later German prisoners. In October 1944, Mr. AVERY is permanently transferred to England to guard prisoners in transit until May 1945.
Mr. John DURISKO entered active duty in December 1943 at age 18. He served with the 320th regiment of the 35th Infantry Division assigned to General Patton’s 3r Army. Mr. DURISKO, a combat medic, took part in the Normandy, Northern France and Rhineland Campaigns. He landed at Omaha Beach in July 1944. He fought in the Hedgerows near Saint-Lô in July, and on the Vire River in August. In September, he is deployed on the eastern front on the Moselle River. On the 15th, he helped liberate Nancy. Two days later, as he was treating wounded soldiers in the Ardennes Forest, he is struck by shrapnel and captured. He is held prisoner in a work camp near the Baltic Sea until May 1945.
Mr. RUDLER entered active duty in March 1943 at age 18. He was assigned to the 83rd Infantry Division where he was a rifleman. He participated in the Normandy, Northern France, the Ardennes and Central Europe Campaigns. Mr. RUDLER landed at Omaha Beach on June 18, 1944 and entered the Battle of the Hedgerows south of Carentan on June 27th. With the 83rd Division he reached Saint-Lô in July and continued the fighting north towards St. Malo in August. On August 14th, Mr. RUDLER is wounded during combat, but he continued fighting through Northern France and the Ardennes. Mr. RUDLER was captured by the Nazis while deployed in Germany, and was sent to Stalag 3A south of Berlin. He remained captive and subjected to forced labor for several months.
Mr. SWARTZ entered active duty in December 1943 at age 19. He was assigned to the 38th Infantry Regiment of the 2nd Infantry Division where he served as a rifleman and a light mortar crewman. He participated in the Normandy, Northern France, the Ardennes, the Rhineland and Central Europe campaigns. On June 5th, 1944, Mr. SWARTZ left England and headed towards Normandy. In the early hours of June 6th, his ship was bombed. Mr. SWARTZ and other survivors boarded boats and landed at Omaha Beach. Four days later, Mr. SWARTZ and his Division started their advance towards Saint-Lô. On August 3rd, Mr. SWARTZ is wounded in action on the Vire River. After months of hospitalization in England, he rejoined his unit to take part in the attacks on the Roer River, the battle of the Bulge, the Rhineland offensive before continuing to Germany and Czechoslovakia.
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More on D-Day Conneaut
Star Beacon – August, 15th 2017 : Legion of Honor ceremony salutes three WWII veterans
Star Beacon – August, 19th 2017 : World War II battle re-enacted in Conneaut
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