By Jessica PayneJanuary 9, 2014
The Consul General of France located in Houston, Texas, presented a logistics technician assigned to the United States Army Signal Network Enterprise Center, Joint Base San Antonio, with the Award of Chevalier in the French Order of the Legion of Honor for his contributions that led to the liberation of France.
Fred Chapal and five other gentlemen were among the last in their generation to receive France's highest decoration during a ceremony held at the Alamo Plaza in downtown San Antonio Dec. 2, 2013.
NEC director, Jesus RosaVelez said Chapal is considered a unique treasure within JBSA. When he heard such a distinguished honor was to be bestowed he was not the least bit surprised considering Chapal's extensive combat resume.
"The fact that he is a World War II veteran and still a highly productive member of the government workforce is astonishing to me. At the prideful age of 90 and who continues active service to our nation, he definitely epitomizes Army Strong," RosaVelez said.
The Legion of Honor originates back to 1802, after all French orders of Chivalry were abolished during the French Revolution. Instituted by Napoleon Bonaparte then, the First Consul of the First French Republic, this award intended to reward civilians and soldiers alike in recognition of merit or bravery in the service of France. Since its creation, this award has remained the highest, most prestigious decoration in France. Chapal served during World War II in five major campaigns, including Normandy, Northern France, Ardennes, Rhineland, and Central Europe.
Assigned to Company A of the 87th Chemical Mortar Battalion at the time, Chapal said he was surprised to be receiving the award. An elated Chapal recounted, "I was completely overwhelmed! Receiving this award made me go back through my battalion's history and look at the calendar during that time in order to figure out what day of the week that everything happened instead of just the month and day."
Chapal is recognized as the oldest civil servant with the Network Enterprise Technology Command/9th Signal Command (Army) as well as Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston. In addition, Fred is among the six oldest federal employees serving in the Army and has been a civil servant for over 30 years. Today he serves as a logistics technician, managing property accountability and supply operations.
Jennifer Phifer, Business and Plans Division chief of the NEC -- JBSA and Chapal's senior supervisor commented that, "Fred is an amazing individual and I was delighted to witness him being presented such a prestigious and well deserved award. It's not very often that one gets the privilege of having someone in their ranks with such a rich combination of life experience, wisdom, and humility; I am truly honored to have him on our business management team."