US veterans awarded Legion of Honor, become French Knights
Sgt. Valerie Lopez,
Headquarters, 1st Armored Division:
Three U.S. Army veterans received the French National Order of the Legion of Honor Aug. 24 during an awards ceremony at the 82nd Airborne Association Benavides-Patterson Chapter building.
The NOLH in French is called the Ordre National De la Legion d’Honneur and was presented by French Consul General Frederic Bontems. The NOLH was established by Napoleon Bonaparte, May 19, 1802.
The order is the highest decoration in France and is divided into five degrees: Chevalier (Knight), Officier (Officer), Commandeur (Commander), Grand Officier (Grand Officer) and Grand Croix (Grand Cross).
As the three men were presented with the medal, they also received the title of “knight,” the first degree of the NOHL.
Retired Lt. Col. Robert Chisolm, former Staff Sgt. Armondo Sabrano and former Pfc. Angel Romero served and fought alongside French allies during the battle at Normandy, France. The operation fighting Nazi Germany’s military began June 6, 1944, and ended June 30, 1944.
Chisolm and Romero landed on the beaches of Normandy with the 82nd Airborne Division, June 6, 1944. Sabrano, 1st Infantry Division, joined the battle June 11, 1944. The FMOH was presented for their contributions in that battle and other battles during World War II.
“We had no idea that we would also be knighted by the French government,” said Chisolm. “It’s an honor to receive this award.”
“The NOHL is the most prestigious award of France,” said Bontems. “Our nation thanks you for your service.”
During the ceremony the recipients were also presented tokens of appreciation from the office of Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson, the City of El Paso, 1st Armored Division and Fort Bliss.
Maj. Gen. Dana J. H. Pittard, 1st Armored Division and Fort Bliss commander, said, “I am deeply humbled and honored to stand in the presence of these great men.”
That night, the El Paso Star on the mountain was lit in their honor.
William J. Elser was also to be honored but unable to attend ceremony.
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