CHARLOTTE – Fifteen Charlotte area veterans received France’s highest military honor for their part in the liberation of France and the eventual defeat of the Nazis in World War II.
The Legion of Honor was presented to each of the veterans by the French Consul General Denis Barbet at an afternoon ceremony in Charlotte’s South End.
One of the veterans, William Greenlee who was in the Army, said of his part in the invasion, “I felt like I was doing something over there for the French and on into Germany.”
As his medal was presented, Robert Beroth said, “It’s the highest honor I can get. It is a great honor.”
Beroth was on a Navy ship on the morning of D Day. He said, “My ship delivered the Fourth Infantry, or part of it, to Utah Beach.”
Colonel Jean Varda of Waxhaw received his award wearing one of his original uniforms. He is now 98-years-old and the uniform still fits perfectly.
Asked what the award and Veterans Day meant to him this year, Varda said, “It’s probably my last hurrah,” he said with a smile.
When 90-year old Lewis Spitzer, an army vet was asked what went through his mind when he landed in France, he recalled thinking,
“Well, we are here. Maybe it’ll be an adventure. I hope we don’t get killed.”
Many of Spitzer’s friends were killed or wounded.
“Good God,” was all Spitzer could say as he choked back a tear.
The Legion of Honor was founded by Napoleon Bonapart in 1802.