WWII Veteran Xenophon "Fonda" Doudalis from Des Plaines, IL awarded French Legion of Honor
On June 22, 2018, Consul General Guillaume Lacroix presented WWII Veteran Xenophon "Fonda" Doudalis from Des Plaines, Illinois with the French Legion of Honor, France’s highest distinction.
The ceremony was held at the Des Plaines City Hall in the presence of City of Des Plaines Alderwoman Carla Brookman, City of Des Plaines City Manager Michael Bartholomew, State Representative Marty Moylan and State Senator Laura Murphy.
Sergent Doudalis entered into active service in September 1943, at age 19. He was assigned to the 281st Combat Engineer Battalion of 3rd Army. He served as a combat engineer, construction foreman and rifle expert with the “A” Company.
He arrived in Le Havre, France on December 29, 1944. His Battalion, under General Patton’s 3rd Army command, was immediately deployed on the northern eastern front. He advanced quickly from the western coast to the Ardennes-Alsace-Lorraine, a region that had been battered by violent combats for months.
In France, he fought from January to March on the borders of Belgium, Luxembourg and Germany. He helped liberate several cities including Longuyon, Longeville-lès-St-Avold, les Etangs, Falck and Filstroff and participated in the combats on the Saar River, a strategic crossing point into Germany.
On March 17, 1945, Sergent Doudalis and his battalion crossed the border and reached Hilbringen in Germany. At the end of April, 281st Combat Engineer Battalion entered Dachau concentration camp where 32,000 men, women and children were held prisoners. Mr. Doudalis was part of the initial liberation phase of the camp. His mission was first to photograph the area for assessment, then help the survivors out of the camp. For his valorous conduct in action, Mr. Doudalis has received prestigious distinctions including: 2 Overseas Service Bars, the European-African-Middle-Eastern Theater Service Medal, the Good Conduct Medal, and the American Service Medal.