Tremont (IL) Veteran Honored by France
On September 27th, WWII Veteran Edwin E "Gene" Neeley, 94, was awarded the French Legion of Honor for his service in Southern France during "Operation Dragoon" in August 1944.
Consul General Lacroix presented France’s highest distinction to Mr. Neeley during a ceremony held at the Country Club of Peoria Heights in the presence of family members, friends and veterans. To mark this important day, Peoria Council Member Beth Jensen also presented a proclamation in place of Mayor Jim Ardis.
“Every French family has a story to tell about World War II. Without America, France would not be an independent country anymore. It changed everything in my country, it changed our destiny forever. And for that, we are forever grateful,” Consul General Lacroix said.
During the war, PFC Neeley served with the 2nd Replacement Depot of the 5th Army as a supply clerk and truck driver. From September 1943 until November 1945, he participated in five major campaigns, Naples-Foggia, Rome-Arno, Southern France (St. Tropez sector and Port of Marseilles), the Rhineland and Central Europe. After his service, he joined the Illinois Air National Guard’s 169th Fighter Squadron. Today, Mr. Neeley is well-known in his community for being an active member of the Greater Peoria Honor Flight organization.
Mr. Neeley returned to France for the first time in June 2019 for the D-Day commemorations in Normandy.