GREENSBORO, N.C. -- In two ceremonies, one in Reidsville and the other in Greensboro, two World War II veterans were bestowed with the French Legion of Honor, the highest honor France can give, created in 1802 by Emporer Napoleon Bonaparte, for its citizens, foreign nationals or veterans who risked their lives fighting on French soil.
The Consul General of France for the Southeastern United States, Vincent Hommeril, presented Paul Prewitt and Al Lochra Jr. with their awards.
“The United States and France have always stood shoulder to shoulder to defend the values of freedom and democracy,” Hommeril told the crowds gathered at each venue. “Today we remember that the French-American friendship is bound in blood and that our two countries owe each other their very existence as free nations.
“In recognition of your heroic actions and extraordinary accomplishments, the president of the French Republic Emmanuel Macron nominated you to the Legion of Honor with the rank of knight.”
Both men were humbled by the award. Prewitt spent time serving with General George S. Patton and Lochra flew in the back of a B-17 as a gunner and radio operator.
Not they both have the title of knight.
“It’s amazing and I never really anticipated all this, it’s something else, they’ve made my century, just about,” Lochra said.
“It means a lot to me especially being from a foreign country,” Prewitt said.
Some of the best-known American recipients of the Legion of Honor include Gens. Dwight D. Eisenhower and Douglas MacArthur and, as an institution, The United States Military Academy at West Point.