FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas -- The French government, along with Soldiers, veterans and civilians of Fort Sam Houston, honored 20 World War II veterans Nov. 14 for their efforts in liberating France in 1944. The ceremony was a focal point of Fort Sam Houston's "Salute to Veterans" ceremony at MacArthur Field.
"We should celebrate Veterans Day every day," said Lt. Gen. Perry Wiggins, Commanding General, U.S. Army North (Fifth Army) and senior commander Fort Sam Houston and Camp Bullis. "I take great pride that I wear the cloth of this nation, and stand on the shoulders of giants."
Some of the "giants" that Wiggins referred to were the World War II veterans who were presented with the French Legion of Honor during the ceremony. The veterans had participated in the liberation of France.
"Today we celebrate French and American friendship by honoring these American heroes," said Sujiro Seam, Consul General for the French Consulate in Houston as he presented the awards on behalf of his nation.
Seam reminded the audience that the friendship between the two nations began during the American Revolution when Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de Lafayette, assisted the fledging American Army in its fight for independence.
"France was the first nation to recognize America," said Seam. He went on to say that the friendship culminated 70 years ago when the American military assisted in the liberation of France.
"They fought for my country," said Seam. "So we are bestowing them with the nation's highest decoration, the Legion of Honor. They are the true heroes of today."
One of the veterans who received the Legion of Honor was Martha Moyer, a nurse with the 42nd Field Hospital. She arrived in France on June 10, 1944 and moved with General George Patton's Third Army as they pushed into France then Germany.
"The Battle of the Bulge was terrible," said Moyer. She said that as German troops closed in around the Americans, she and some of the other nurses were evacuated back to Allied controlled France so they wouldn't be captured by the Nazis.
"I was lucky. Two of our doctors and seven of our corpsmen were taken prisoner," she said.
The Battle of the Bulge took place in the Ardennes region of Belgium, France and Luxembourg, from Dec. 16, 1944 to Jan. 25, 1945 in Belgium. It was the last major German offensive of the war.
"They are the 'Greatest Generation'," said Wiggins. "They stood the line against Nazi tyranny to protect all of Europe."
The veterans awarded the Legion of Honor are:
1st Lt. Carol Coffee
Pvt. 1st Class Ewald Erdelt
Tech. Sgt. Fred Felan
Pvt. 1st Class Eldon Gracy
Sgt. James Hoke
Tech. Sgt. Arlie Horn
Capt. John Howland
Staff Sgt. Robert Jackson
Sgt. Burnett James
Col. Sterling Johnson
Sgt. TJ Jones
Pvt. 1st Class Norman Martin
Tech. Sgt. Charles Monroe
Capt. Martha Moyer
1st Lt. James Muir
Tech Sgt. Salvador Sanchez
Capt. George Brodie
Sgt. Robert Cobb
Capt. Robert Swofford