French Consul General Christophe Lemoine awards former B-17 bomber tail gunner Philip Daily of Brighton the Legion
of Honor medal Monday in Windsor. Daily’s plane was shot down on his 25th mission and he was interned in Stalag Luft
IV until he survived a horrific forced march as the war in Europe was winding down. (Michael Brian)
WINDSOR — Five times Monday afternoon, French
Consul General Christophe Lemoine spoke in French, pinned a Legion of Honor medal on an elderly Colorado veteran of the European
Theater in World War II, and embraced the recipient.
Lemoine presented the medal to military nurse Leila Morrison of Windsor; B-24 pilot Bill Powell
of Fort Collins; B-17 tail gunner Philip Daily of Brighton; B-17 ball turret gunner Harry Maroncelli of Fort Collins; and
B-17 bombardier Armand Sedgeley of Lakewood.
Lemoine’s French message was a mandatory part of his country’s highest award, designated in five
degrees, and the Coloradans Monday afternoon received the Chevalier, or Knight, version of the medal in the packed chapel
at the Good Samaritan Retirement Village.
In French, Lemoine told each one, per the prescribed ritual: “On behalf of French president, and according
to the powers given me, I bestow upon you the Medal of Chevalier in the Order of the Legion of Honor.”
In a conversation after the ceremony, Lemoine
said why his nation was doing this — and why now, nearly 75 years after the contributions of U.S. forces were crucial
in liberating France from German control.
Leila Morrison, Armand
Sedgeley, and Bill Powell sing the national anthem prior to being awarded the Legion of Honor medal by French Consul General
Christophe Lemoine. (Michael Brian)
“It’s very important to remember what happened,” the Los Angeles-based Lemoine
said. “It’s very important to remember who came to liberate us and free Europe. It’s important to remember
that the American Army was at that time engaged in liberating Europe. The Europe we have now and the France we have now is
thanks to them.
it’s very important to do it. It’s very important to remember that they went to Europe and they made sacrifices.”
The ceremony also honored Tank
Battalion Capt. Joe Graham, father of former Colorado State University athletic director Jack Graham, whose medal was approved
and in the works when he passed away last year. Jack Graham received his father’s medal separately.
Lemoine said he makes such presentations about
once a month.
we have five veterans,” he said. “Sometimes it’s less and sometimes it’s more. The other counsels
in the U.S. also do it on a regular basis. . . We do remember the Greatest Generation and we remember what happened. Europe
went through two world wars. All over Europe, you can still see the aftermath of World War II, so it’s something that
is very present and important to us.
“Those ceremonies are always very special for me as a French person. I was born in the ’70s, but
you see it and my grandparents went through all of this. This is something that for Europeans, really does exist. On top of
it, it is a great ceremony and gathering of families, and a special moment. So I’m very happy to do it.”
French Consul General
Christophe Lemoine pins the Legion of Honor medal on Harry Maroncelli. (Michael Brian)
The recipients were grateful, and friends and
family members scrambled for position to take pictures for posterity.
“This is a very special honor that I didn’t really expect to see
after 75 years,” said Powell, whose plane went down on his 10th mission before he spent the rest of the war in
the Stalag Luft I prison camp. “But I’m very, very thankful for the presentation, and also for the turnout here.
Morrison, a combat nurse with the 118th Evacuation Hospital, including at the Buchenwald concentration camp after its
liberation, said simply: “I was just so thankful to serve. I was very thankful that I had the skills of a nurse, because
I know we saved lives.”
She conceded it was an emotional day for her.
“A lot of memories,” she said. “Some good. Some bad.”
Lt. Col. Frank Huffman, the former executive officer of ROTC at CSU, was the master of ceremonies
for the event, and his introductions of the recipients included detail slide shows outlining their service. Much information
also has come from Brad Hoopes of Remember and Honor, who had interviewed
the recipients and produced individual DVDs of their remembrances. He also was the major liaison with the French representatives.
on Greeley Tribune site
Military photos of the
recipients of the French Legion of Honor medal Monday, with the DVDs of interviews conducted with them by Brad Hoopes of Rememberandhonor.com.
(Terry Frei )