Witness chivalry in the making as 3 WWII Veterans are to be formally presented France’s Highest Honor, the Legion d’honneur, on September 2nd, 2021, in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania, at the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall, beginning at 1PM. This extraordinary event is open to the public yet seating is limited. French Consul General, François Penguilly, of the French Embassy and Consulate in Washington D.C., will be decorating these fine men within the beautiful and spacious Auditorium within the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall.
The Honored Veterans are:
Wally King – 1st Lt. Wallace N. King earned 4 Campaign Stars serving as a Fighter Pilot flying a P-47 Thunderbolt. In September of 1944, 1st Lt. King arrived in France trained as a P-51 Pilot, flew one orientation flight in the P-47, then spent the rest of his war flying “The Jug”. Employing the P-47 in the ground support role, as a pilot in the 513th Fighter Squadron, 406th Fighter Group, the group’s objective was to provide soldiers on the ground a rapid strike capability from the air. The squadron concentrated on bombing and strafing enemy troop concentrations, armored vehicles, fixed and mobile gun emplacements, and rail-head marshaling yards. On his 75th mission, on the 18th of April of 1945, Lt. King was shot down by enemy anti aircraft artillery and briefly fell into captivity. Mr. King is 97.
Guy Prestia – Following basic training, Sergeant Guy Prestia was assigned to Company E of the 157th Infantry Regiment, 45th Infantry Division, in May of 1943. In combat Guy carried the Browning automatic rifle that weighed in at nearly 21 pounds. After first arriving in North Africa in 1943, he fought throughout the Italian Campaigns landing in Sicily, then Salerno, Anzio, Rome, the invasion of Southern France, the French eastern frontier and into the heart of Germany. The 45th Infantry Division spent an incredible 511 days in combat. At the end of the war, Guy took part in the liberation of the Dachau Concentration Camp outside of Munich Germany. Mr. Prestia is 99.
Fran Turner – Major Francis C. Turner entered the service as an enlisted man prior to America entering WWII. Following America’s entry, Corporal Turner entered and then completed Officers Candidate School in August of 1942. Assigned to D Company of the 17th Armored Engineers Battalion, Lt. Turner took part in the landing at Rabat Morocco then advanced into Algeria in 1943. After the African campaign concluded, Lt. Turner arrived in Tidworth England to prepare for the Invasion of Normandy. The task of the battalion was to sweep for mines ahead of the infantry and establish a clear a path for armored vehicles, all under fire. Once in France, he was assigned to Company A of the 17th Armored Engineers Battalion, 2nd Armored Division, where he participated in combat operations during the Normandy Invasion and throughout Northern France. As the war progressed, Lt. Turner entered Belgium, Holland, took part in the Ardennes Offensive also known as the Battle of the Bulge, and then crossed the Rhine River at Wessel Germany. Lt. Turner was awarded the Silver Star for ‘Extraordinary Heroism’ and a Bronze Star for Valor. Following his service in WWII, Lt. Turner joined the U.S. Army Reserves and retired as a Major in 1979; serving his country for 38 years. Mr. Turner is 102.
In addition to an address by the Consul General and the veterans being decorated, the ceremony will also feature remarks by Madame Françoise Crozet, who will convey the love and respect that the citizens of France have for their liberators, and then, an address from Brigadier General (Retired) David Papak, USMC, highlighting the ongoing mission of our Soldiers, Sailors, and Airmen of yesterday, today, and tomorrow.
September 2nd, 1945… As we reflect upon this medal ceremony in 2021, we must remember that 76 years ago to this very day, that on the deck of the USS Missouri, in 1945, the final surrender ending World War Two took place. What better way to celebrate Liberty and Freedom then to honor 3 gallant men who did their part in securing those most sought after ideals…
Admission is free.