Une Nation Reconnaissante

Une nation reconnaissante – that’s French for “A Grateful Nation,” and France is that nation.

Marianne is a national symbol of the French Republic, an allegory of liberty and reason, and a portrayal of the Goddess of Liberty.  (Courtesy Wikipedia)

Marianne is a national symbol of the French Republic, an allegory of liberty and reason, and a portrayal of the Goddess of Liberty. (Courtesy Wikipedia)

In World War II, Frisky was too busy making history to pay much mind to it. It takes time for reflection and recollection to account for what happened. Battle honors and awards are often given out in a timely fashion, but sometimes they aren’t. Also, new awards or honors were created by various organizations, long after the sound of Frisky’s Pratt & Whitney R-2800 Double Wasp engines had faded from the skies over Europe. When the war ended the focus of most members of the 371st Fighter Group was to get back home, and not to wait around to let history sort itself out.

But for any of the veterans of the 371st Fighter Group who served in the unit during the time it was in France, from Ste. Mere Eglise, to Perthes, to Dole, Tantonville and Metz, there is an opportunity to perhaps garner a little recognition and appreciation for that time in France from the government of France.

According to the website of the French Embassy in Washington, D.C., “…most American veterans who served in France during World Wars I and II are inducted into the Légion d’honneur, or Legion of Honor.

Medal worn by a Chevalier (Knight) of the Légion d'honneur (Legion of Honor).  (Courtesy Wikipedia)

Medal worn by a Chevalier (Knight) of the Légion d’honneur (Legion of Honor). (Courtesy Wikipedia)

The French Legion of Honor is an order of distinction first established by Napoleon Bonaparte in May of 1802. It is the highest decoration bestowed in France and is divided into five categories: Chevalier (Knight), Officier (Officer), Commandeur (Commander), Grand Officier (Grand Officer) and Grand Croix (Grand Cross). The highest degree of the Order of the Legion of Honor is that of Grand Master, which is held by the sitting President of the Republic.”

The French Embassy website continues: “American veterans who risked their lives during World War II and who fought on French territory qualify to be decorated as Knights of the Legion of Honor. Veterans must have fought in one of the four main campaigns of the Liberation of France: Normandy, Provence, Ardennes, or Northern France.”

The 371st Fighter Group received credit for participation in the following campaigns during World War II: Air Offensive, Europe; Normandy; Northern France; Rhineland; Ardennes-Alsace and Central Europe. So Frisky was in three of the four Legion of Honor-qualifying campaigns.

Direction and guidance for how a 371st Fighter Group (and Attached Units) veterans can apply for this distinctive order are also found on the French Embassy website:

“To inquire about eligibility for the decoration of a U.S. veteran having served in France or with French forces, please contact coopcom.mmf@ambafrance-us.org.

For more information about applying to join the Legion of Honor, please contact your nearest French Consulate.” The locations for the ten (10) French consulates in the United States can be seen at:
http://ambafrance-us.org/spip.php?article330
References
“France Honors American World War Veterans in the United States,” at: http://ambafrance-us.org/spip.php?article3150

“Legion of Honour,” Wikipedia entry at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Legion_of_Honour

“Marianne,” Wikipedia entry at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marianne

Maurer, Maurer, Editor, “Air Force Combat Units in World War II,” Office of Air Force History, Washington, D.C., 1983. 371st Fighter Group lineage and honors entry on pages 257-258

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