Posted by: SJS | August 3, 2011

PT Vets awarded French Legion of Honour

Flag of France

French flag

Upon learning that the French Government had decided to award the Legion of Honour Medal (Ordre national de la Legion d’honneur) to PT sailors and other US servicemen who played a role in the liberation of France in WWII, I began the process of requesting the prestigious award on behalf of Red Stahley.

A short article in the PT newsletter, All Hands put out by PT Boats, Inc.,  had advertised the intention of the French Government to recognize the efforts of American soldiers and sailors who put their lives on the line to help free France from Nazi occupation.  I could scarcely believe my eyes!  The Legion of Honour is the highest decoration in France and it goes back to the time of Napoleon Bonaparte.  It is awarded for “excellent civil or military conduct delivered, upon official investigation.”  

The requirements for receiving the award included the submission of official military documentation clearly demonstrating a veteran’s participation in any of the campaigns devoted to the liberation of France.   Along with my letter, I included photocopies of Red’s assignment to Squadron 15 which documented the work of the PTs during the liberation of Elba (June ’44) and the invasion of Southern France (August ’44).

Map of France

Map of France with island of Corsica in insert - site of PT base in '44

It turned out that the medal was not being presented posthumously but my correspondence with the French Embassy in Washington included a beautiful tribute to Red’s service.  Knowing how proud he would have been to receive the award was satisfaction enough for me.  Knowing the story of Red’s assignment to Squadron (Ron) 15 during those critical months in the summer of 1944, having some photos from those days, and having his campaign bars from his USN service are all the treasures needed by our family (although the medal would have been most welcome).

Copies of my correspondence with the French embassy are on the website:  under the Narrative Section.  I would strongly encourage all surviving PT Vets and their families to submit the required documentation to the French Embassy and claim this distinguished honor.  The French Government will  bestow this award with gratitude in recognition of the noble work of those Americans who fought on behalf of France during WWII. 

Go for it, Vets!  If you served in England and participated in D-Day or patrols in the English Channel or in the Mediterranean, there is a medal that France wants to give you.  You’ve earned it.

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