Veterans Day 2016
MIDWEST. Veterans Day - November 11th Commemoration and French Legion of Honor presentation ceremonies to WWII Veterans.
November 11-12, the Consulate General of France in Chicago has awarded the Legion of Honor to 9 WWII American veterans in Illinois, Michigan, and Ohio and participated in the 2016 Annual Veterans Day Parade in Bronzeville-Chicago.
Chicago (IL), November 11th. Annual Bronzeville Veterans Day Parade in the presence of Deputy Consul General Frédéric CHOLÉ.
Bands, ROTC units and the Deputy Consul general of France celebrated the contribution of African Americans to the French during World War I during the Annual Bronzeville Veterans Day Parade sponsored by Chicago Defenders Charities.
The parade started at 43rd and King and ended at 35th and King at the Victory Monument created by by French-born sculptor Leonard Crunelle. The monument was erected in 1928 to honor the Eighth Regiment of the Illinois National Guard, the "Fighting Eighth". The names of 137 members of the 8th Infantry, Illinois National Guard, who lost their lives during World War I, are inscribed on a bronze panel. The Eighth Regiment of the Illinois National Guard was reorganized as the 370th U.S. Infantry of the 93rd Division, and this regiment saw service on WWI major battlefields. It was the last regiment pursuing the retreating German forces in the Aisne-Marne region of France, just before the November 11, 1918 Armistice.
L. to R. Colonel Eugene Scott, Chicago Defender, former President of the Chicago Defender Charities, Toni Preckwinkle, Cook County Board President, and Deputy Consul general Frédéric Cholé.
Chicago (IL), November 11th, Deputy Consul General Frédéric CHOLÉ presented the French Legion of Honor to WWII Veteran Benito MORALES.
Mr. MORALES entered active service in March 1943 at age 20. From May 1944 until October 1945, Mr. MORALES fought in five major campaigns, Normandy, Northern France, the Rhineland, the Ardennes, and Central Europe. He was assigned to the 39th regiment of the 9th Infantry Division, where he was not only an automatic rifleman but also in charge of setting mines to destroy enemy tanks.
Mr. MORALES and his comrades landed in Normandy on D-Day plus 4, on June 10th, 1944. Combat started just 48 hours after landing. Under constant enemy fire, the men of the 39th successfully advanced towards The Contentin Peninsula and the strategic deep-water port of Cherbourg, which they ultimately sealed off. The “Battle of the Hedgerows” came next, with the St Lô breakthrough. Mr. MORALES’ regiment fought bravely for 25 consecutive days but the number of casualties was high and many men lost their life during the fierce enemy attacks. In August, the advance continued inland, first towards the Seine River, then Paris and Northern France. Mr. MORALES and his unit helped clear many towns and villages before entering Belgium and later Germany where Mr. MORALES was distinguished by the American army for heroic achievement.
Toledo (OH), November 11th Consul General of France, Vincent FLOREANI presented the Legion of Honor to two WWII Veterans Mr. Richard R. PERRY and Mr. David N. SCHWARTZ at the University of Toledo.
Mr. Richard PERRY enlisted in the army in July 1943 at age 17. He served with the 255th Infantry, 63rd Division, “G” company where he was a communication Sergeant. From December 1944 until April 1946, Mr. PERRY fought in the Rhineland and in Central Europe.
Mr. PERRY arrived in Marseille and was immediately deployed in the North-Eastern part of France. First, in Metz on the Moselle River, then along the Rhine in Rountzenheim to relieve the 100th Division. The men of the 63rd fought bravely during the harsh winter of 44-45 capturing villages and small towns on their way to Germany. They fought in Colmar, Bitche, Hottviller, in the Sarreguemines area, and thru the Siegfield Line before crossing into Germany. The 63rd suffered many casualties, over 1,000 killed, and more than 5,000 wounded among them was Mr. PERRY who was injured on April 7, 1945.
Mr. David SCHWARTZ enlisted in July 1943 at age 18. He served as a Private First Class with the 103rd Division, 409th Infantry Regiment, “A” Company. From October 1944 until September 1945, he took part in the Rhineland and Central Europe campaigns. Mr. SCHWARTZ, was a rifleman. He was also in charge of laying, maintaining and repairing cables, and wires for phone systems on the front line. The men of 409th arrived in Marseille then advanced north up the Rhone Valley, and relieved the 3rd Division in Chevry. On the way to eastern France, they met pockets of enemy resistance but the fiercest battles were ahead of them in the Vosges and Alsace regions. The division was attacked in St Dié in November, then the fighting continued in Selestat, the Siegfried line, Sarreguemines, on the Sauer and Moder rivers, were the opposition was ferocious. Mr. SCHWARTZ and his regiment finally reached the Upper Rhine Valley in March 45 and advanced into Germany and Austria.
Granville (OH), November 11th, Honorary Consul of France in Cincinnati Anne CAPPEL presented the Legion of Honor to WWII Veterans Andrew A. STERRETT at the Denison University.
Mr. Andrew STERRETT entered active service in June 1943 at age 19. From September 1944 until January 1945, Mr. STERRETT fought in the Rhineland and Ardennes campaigns with the 71st regiment of the 44th Infantry Division.
Private STERRETT and his comrades landed in France via Cherbourg on September 15. After of few weeks of rest and training they were deployed on the Lorraine front on October 18 to relieve the 79th division in the vicinity of Forêt de Parroy east of Lunéville.
The mission was to take part in the 7th Army drive to secure several passes in the Vosges Mountains. But soon, the men of the 44th encountered heavy resistance from the enemy. On November 5th, after completing sentry duty in his foxhole, Mr. STERRETT left to get some rations when the enemy started shelling the American position. Caught in the open, under heavy enemy fire, Mr. STERRETT did not have time to make it to safety. A shell hit near him, almost severing his left arm and badly injuring his right. Thanks to his comrades who took him to cover; to a combat medic who did all he could to save his life; and of course to Mr. STERRETT’s strength and determination he is with us today.
Mr. STERRETT received an honorable discharge in July 1945 after months of hospitalization and rehabilitation.
For his bravery, Mr. STERRETT received prestigious American medals, including the Purple Heart, the Good Conduct Ribbon, the European African Middle Eastern Theater Ribbon with 2 Bronze Campaign stars.
SOUTHFIELD (MI), November 11th Consul General of France, Vincent FLOREANI presented the Legion of Honor to four WWII Veterans Walter S. BALA, John A. CLARK, Mario GIZZI, and Robert P. HAFFNER, and paid tribute to Mr. Alexander JEFFERSON, who was part of the Tuskegee Airmen. Mr. JEFFERSON was awarded the Legion of Honor on November 12th at the Tuskegee Airmen Historical Museum. The medal was presented by Honorary Consul of France in Detroit Pascal GOACHET.
Mr. Walter BALA, entered active duty in March 1943 at age 20. He served with the 8th Air Force where he was an engineer-gunner. From July 1944 until March 1945, Staff-Sergeant BALA flew a total of 35 missions on B-24 heavy bombers in Northern France, the Ardennes and the Rhineland campaigns. The main mission of the 8th Air Force was to carry out strategic bombings of enemy targets and, engage in air-to-air fighter combat. During battle, Mr. BALA maintained and fired 50 caliber machine guns, he aided the pilot and engineer in checking the mechanical operation and worked in close cooperation with the ground crew in keeping a constant check on the plane.
Half of the U.S Army Air Force’s casualties during the war were suffered by the 8th Air force. Mr. BALA was among them, he was wounded in action during a crash landing.
Mr. John CLARK, entered active service in April 1944 at age 21. He served with the 8th Air Force where he was a co-pilot with the 100th Bomb Group also known as the “Bloody Hundredth” due to their heavy combat losses at Thorpe Abbots in England earlier during the war. From September 44 until March 45, Lieutenant CLARK, on board the famous B-17 “Flying fortress”, flew 32 combat missions over Europe in particular in the Ardennes-Alsace and Rhineland campaigns. His main mission was the destruction of oil installations, communication centers, bridges, transportation and ground defense. With his group, he also flew low level supply drops to the French Maquis. The 100th was awarded the French Croix de Guerre with palm for attacking heavily defended German installations and for dropping supplies to the French Forces of the Interior.
Mr. Mario GIZZI, entered active service in September 1943 at age 23. He served with the 13th Infantry Regiment of the 8th Division. From May 1944 until July 45, Private GIZZI took part in the Normandy, Northern France, Rhineland and Central Europe Campaigns. Mr. GIZZI, who was a member of the heavy weapons squad, landed in Normandy in July 44. He took part in the “hedgerows war” and the capture of the city of Rennes on August 3rd. A few days later, along with the 83rd Division, his regiment successfully repelled the enemy from the heavily defended citadel of St Malo, then from the strategic port city of Brest, and finally from the Crozon peninsula. Mr. GIZZI’s regiment continued to advance towards Luxemburg and Germany, where Mr. GIZZI was wounded in action in February 1945.
Mr. Robert HAFFNER, entered active service in July 1943 at age 19. He served with the 307th Airborne engineer Battalion attached to the 82nd Airborne Division where he was a heavy duty truck driver. From April 1944 until December 1945, he participated in the Normandy, Ardennes, Rhineland and Central Europe campaigns. In June 1944, Private HAFFNER took part in operation Neptune, the largest seaborne invasion in history, which was spearheaded by the 82nd and 101st Divisions. He was later deployed in Holland during Operation Market Garden, and in the Ardennes-Alsace area, in support of the 101st Division during the battle of the Bulge. Many men of the 82nd lost their life in the Ardennes Forest before securing the area and crossing to Germany. For their actions in France and bravery during the war the men 82nd were awarded the French Croix de Guerre.
Mr. Alexander JEFFERSON, entered active service in January 1944 at age 23. He served with the 332nd “Red Tail” Fighter Group. Lieutenant Colonel JEFFERSON, a fighter pilot on board P-51 Mustang, was part of the Tuskegee Airmen, the first African-American military aviators in the United States Armed Forces. His mission was to protect bombing missions of the US 15th Air Force and to attack key ground targets. From June to August 1944, Mr. JEFFERSON flew several missions over Europe from his airbase near Foggia in Italy. On August 12, on his 19th mission, he was shot down in southern France over the Toulon harbor while attacking a radar installation. He was injured and captured by the enemy. Mr. JEFFERSON spent the next 8 months as prisoner of war until April 1945.
Milwaukee (WI), November 17th, Deputy Consul General of France Frédéric CHOLÉ presented the Legion of Honor to WWII Veterans Carlos J. Chavez, Jacob P. Hansen and Robert D. Latter and to Richard R. Hanes in memoriam. The ceremony took place at the War Memorial Center.
Mr. Carlos CHAVEZ, entered active duty in March 1943 at age 20. He served with the 330th Infantry Regiment, 83rd Division. From June 1944 until September 1945, Staff-Sergeant CHAVEZ took part in the Normandy, Northern France, Ardennes, Rhineland and Central Europe Campaigns.
Mr. CHAVEZ landed at Omaha Beach on June 23rd. On July 4th, combats started in the hedgerows of Normandy against the 17th SS Panzer Grenadier Division, one of Hitler’s best. For 23 consecutive days, Mr. CHAVEZ’s regiment attacked and repulsed enemy counter-attacks until the German lines were finally broken. Early August, the 83rd Division had been transferred to the Third Army for the Brittany campaign. The 330th successfully captured Dol and Pierguer before heading to the strategic sea ports St Malo and Dinard. Once the region cleared, the regiment quickly advanced through the Loire Valley, before crossing to Luxemburg where combat continued. Mr. CHAVEZ was later deployed in the Ardennes, and Germany.
Mr. Richard HANES, entered active duty in April 1943 at age 19. He served with the 502nd Parachute Infantry regiment assigned to the 101st Airborne Division. From January 1944 until November 1945, Sergeant HANES, who was a rifleman, participated in the Normandy, Ardennes, Rhineland and Central Europe Campaigns.
Mr. HANES landed near Utah beach on June 6, 1944. His mission was to secure two northern causeways leading inland and destroy an enemy coast-artillery battery. But due to the poor weather conditions the regiment was badly scattered during the air drop. As a result, the 101st Division lost a significant number of men. Once the troops had finally rallied, Sergeant HANES and his comrades moved towards Carentan, a port city at the base of the Cotentin peninsula. On their way, and after intense fighting, they captured Saint-Côme-du-Mont and crossed the Dover River Valley. Carentan ultimately fell following a fierce house-to-house fighting and the airborne troops were able to ensure the allies a continuous front.
On June 29th, Mr. HANES and his regiment moved north for occupation duty near Cherbourg. After a short break in England, Mr. HANES was deployed to Holland for Operation Market Garden and later to Belgium where he was wounded during combat.
Mr. Jack P. HANSEN entered active duty in January 1943 at age 20. He served with the Battery “A”, 391st Anti-Aircraft Artillery Automatic Weapons Battalion. From March 1944 until November 1945, Sergeant HANSEN participated in the Normandy, Northern France and Rhineland Campaigns.
Mr. HANSEN landed in Normandy on July 14th, 1944. His mission was to protect the shores for the incoming troops and equipment and to provide artillery support for the advancing allied forces as they pushed back the enemy.
After 3 and ½ months on the high ground above the beach near Grandcamps and Vierville-sur-mer, Mr. HANSEN with his Battalion moved east of Paris to Bar-le-Duc to protect a strategic railroad which was bringing supplies to the front line.
Between December 1944 and February 1945, he was deployed to other sensitive locations including St Dizier to protect a heavily used airfield when the Battle of the Bulge broke out; Mourmelon, near Reims, to provided anti-aircraft protection for the 101st Airborne Division crossing the Rhine River; and Charleville-Mézière at the French-Belgian border to guard railroad terminal.
As the war was coming to an end, Mr. HANSEN and the men of the 391st started on a completely new and secret mission guarding Nazi military and political prisoners in Luxemburg, and GI criminals in Metz, France.
Mr. Robert D. LATTER entered active duty in February 1943 at age 24. He served with the 263rd Field Artillery Battalion, Battery C. From September 1944 until November 1945, Staff Sergeant LATTER took part in the Northern France, Ardennes, Rhineland and Central Europe Campaigns.
Mr. LATTER, who was a field lineman, landed in Normandy on September 7, 1944. After a few weeks in western France, his battalion along with the entire 26th Division was deployed in Lorraine near Nancy to relieve the 4th Armored Division, and maintain defensive positions. On October 23rd, Mr. LATTER’s Battalion opened fire against enemy positions at Bézange-La-Grande. It was the first of many more attacks to come throughout the region. The battalion continued the offensive in Alsace before being relieved from its mission on December 14 and moved to Metz. There, elements of the division successfully captured the last enemy stronghold in the city. But rest at Metz was soon interrupted by the Von Rundstedt offensive. The Division then moved north to Luxemburg to take part in the Ardennes Campaign before continuing into German heartland.
France Will Never Forget.