WWII veteran honored by France
1 / 10 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Hon. Guillaume Lacroix, Consul General of France in Chicago, shakes the hand of WWII veteran Edward Morrissette after presenting him the French Legion of Honor medal Oct. 30, 2019, at the Omaha Army Reserve Center in Elkhorn, Neb. Morrissette served ... (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL
WWII veteran honored by France
2 / 10 Show Caption + Hide Caption – WWII veteran Edward Morrissette stands as the US and French colors are presented by Omaha Public Schools JROTC cadets at a special award ceremony Oct. 30, 2019, at the Omaha Army Reserve Center in Elkhorn, Neb. Morrissette served with the 16th Infant... (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL
BG Aarsen remarks
3 / 10 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Brig. Gen. John Aarsen, commander of the US Army Reserve's 451st Sustainment Command (Expeditionary), welcomes those in attendance for a special award ceremony for WWII veteran Edward Morrissette Oct. 30, 2019, at the Omaha Army Reserve Center in Elk... (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL
WWII veteran honored by France
4 / 10 Show Caption + Hide Caption – WWII veteran Edward Morrissette shares thoughts with the audience after receiving the French Legion of Honor in a special ceremony Oct. 30, 2019, at the Omaha Army Reserve Center in Elkhorn, Neb. Morrissette served with the 16th Infantry Regiment, 1s... (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL
Ed Morrissette in WWII
5 / 10 Show Caption + Hide Caption – A photo of Edward Morrissette is displayed at a ceremony in which he was presented the French Legion of Honor Oct. 30, 2019, at the Omaha Army Reserve Center in Elkhorn, Neb. Morrissette served with the 16th Infantry Regiment, 1st Infantry Division, ... (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL
Landing on Omaha Beach
6 / 10 Show Caption + Hide Caption – WWII veteran Edward Morrissette tells a story of jumping out of landing craft into chest deep water off Omaha Beach while carrying a rifle and a roll of telephone wire above his head, speaking to reporters Oct. 30, 2019, at the Omaha Army Reserve Cen... (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL
WWII veteran honored by France
7 / 10 Show Caption + Hide Caption – WWII veteran Edward Morrissette smiles for a photo with a child after receiving the French Legion of Honor in a special ceremony Oct. 30, 2019, at the Omaha Army Reserve Center in Elkhorn, Neb. Morrissette served with the 16th Infantry Regiment, 1st ... (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL
WWII veteran honored by France
8 / 10 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts, WWII veteran Edward Morrissette, and French Consul General Guillaume Lacroix gather for a photo after the ceremony in which Morrissette received the French Legion of Honor medal Oct. 30, 2019, at the Omaha Army Reserv... (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL
WWII veteran honored by France
9 / 10 Show Caption + Hide Caption – WWII veteran Edward Morrissette is joined by Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts, French Consul General Guillaume Lacroix, and soldiers in attendance at an award ceremony Oct. 30, 2019, at the Omaha Army Reserve Center in Elkhorn, Neb. Morrissette served... (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL
WWII veteran of Big Red One honored by France
10 / 10 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Nebraska Army National Guard Soldiers from the 1st Infantry Division's Main Command Post - Operational Detachment gather for a photo with Big Red One WWII veteran Edward Morrissette after he received the French Legion of Honor in a special ceremony O... (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

ELKHORN, Neb. -- A World War II veteran who served with the U.S. Army's 1st Infantry Division in multiple campaigns, including Normandy where he landed on Omaha Beach with the second wave of troops on D-Day, was awarded the French Legion of Honor.

Edward H. "Ed" Morrissette, age 96, was presented the award by France's Consul General from Chicago, Guillaume Lacroix, during a special ceremony Oct. 30, 2019, at the Omaha Army Reserve Center, surrounded by dozens of family, fellow veterans and distinguished guests.

"It means a lot to be here in Omaha, Nebraska, with you 75 years after you landed on Omaha Beach," Lacroix said. "Our gratitude, sir, is forever because you changed the destiny of France and the destiny of Europe forever."

The medal pinned on his jacket, Morrissette walked slowly to the lectern, thanked everyone, and said he accepted the award for others who served and many who never returned home.

"I don't know that I particularly deserved it, but I know that the men and women of the First Division that landed in Europe deserve it, especially those that are not back with us now," Morrissette said. "I had some friends that didn't make it off of that shore, and I miss them terribly. But I want to say one thing: I'm glad that we helped France… got them out from under the heels of Nazi boots."

On June 6, 1944, Morrissette was a squad leader in charge of machine gun crews with the 16th Infantry Regiment headquarters. It was his third beach landing, having already landed and fought in North Africa and Sicily.

Speaking with reporters after the award ceremony, he shared a story of what happened as he and his men jumped out of the landing craft just short of French soil.

"It was difficult for our boat to get into shore, and when it did we jumped out into water up to our chest," Morrissette said. He and another soldier were carrying a roll of telephone wire above their heads, in addition to their rifles, and as they realized the roll of wire was drawing the aim of enemy gunners they decided to jettison the extra load.

"If they need to communicate, I guess they'll just have to holler," Morrissette said, holding his arms above his head and reenacting the struggle to get ashore.

On the beach he found cover behind a concrete block, and eventually crawled the rest of the way to higher ground.

By the time Germany surrendered in May 1945, Morrissette and the Big Red One fought their way through Northern France, the Ardennes, and were headed to Prague.

"This country should be proud of our soldiers," he said. "They are remarkable people, and they can do remarkable things."

Morrissette was nominated for France's Legion of Honor by his family. Although the number of medals awarded each year is limited, most American veterans of World War I and II can be inducted. Past American recipients include Gen. Dwight Eisenhower, Gen. Douglas MacArthur and Adm. Michael Mullen.

Related Links:

Army.mil: D-Day

Army.mil: Europe News

Army.mil: Soldiers