WWII Vets of Texas knighted with Legion of Honor
Sgt. Barry St. Clair,
24th Press Camp Headquarters:
American Soldiers of World War II – retired Lt. Col. Robert Chisolm of Dallas, former Staff Sgt. Armondo Sabrano, former Pfc. Angel Romero of El Paso – were knighted by the French Consul General Frederic Bontems in El Paso Friday for their participation that led to the liberation of Paris, France on Aug. 24 and 25, 1944.
The National Order of the Legion of Honor is France’s highest honor and began during the French Revolution by Napoleon Bonaparte. The highest class of the Legion of Honor is the Chevalier [Knight].
Chevalier Ordre National de la Légion d’honneur was awarded to four American Soldiers – William J. Elser, another awardee, was not present – by the French Consul General Frederic Bontems, who represented France for the award honoring the courage and bravery of those who contributed to the liberation of France in 1944 from German control.
“France has a lengthy relationship with both America and Texas,” said Bontems. “It was the French who first called the Americas ‘united’ states during the American Revolution. … France also signed a treaty with the Republic of Texas in 1839 establishing free trade between our states.”
A brief history of the awardees was included during the award ceremony held at the Home of the 82nd Airborne Division Association, Benavidez-Patterson Chapter.
Chisolm was assigned to K Company, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division, and Romero to G Company, 508th PIR, 82nd AD. They both jumped into Normandy, France, on D-day, June 6, 1944.
Sabrano followed June 11, 1944, with K Co., 1st Infantry Division, on Omaha Beach.
Chisolm was wounded on his 19th birthday, June 23, and was evacuated to 22 General Hospital in England. He returned to his unit late in August in time for the jump into Holland.
Romero was wounded three times and continued through France, Belgium and jumped into Holland. He also was at the Battle of the Bulge and Market Garden campaigns.
“We are here today because of those who stood with us,” said Romero.
“Many of them gave their lives for us,” added Chisolm.
Sabrano stayed with 1st ID through Belgium and into Germany. He was promoted to staff sergeant when his squad leader was wounded for the third time and returned home to America.
Sabrano and about 40 others surrendered to the Germans at the Battle of Hurtgen Forest Oct. 17, 1944. They were out of ammunition, had no gas to move their tanks, and the artillery was unable to support them because they were out of munitions.
Sabrano eventually was released by the Germans as their campaign dissolved. He and the others walked from Kustrin, Germany, to Odessa, Ukraine, a distance of 1,053 miles, where he boarded ship to Naples, Italy. He returned to the U. S. and was sent to Fort Bliss, Texas, where he supervised German POWs at the post laundry facility.
“It was wonderful to receive this honor today from France,” said Sabrano.
Maj. Gen. Dana J. H. Pittard, 1st Armored Division and Fort Bliss commander, also attended the event.
“I am deeply humbled and honored to stand in the presence of these great men of such high character today,” Pittard said.
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