“Your sac­ri­fices will never be for­got­ten”

The Denver Post - - NEWS - By Craig Young Jenny Sparks, Love­land Re­porter-Her­ald

Love­land Re­porter-Her­ald

WIND­SOR» The five Army vet­er­ans sat pa­tiently, wait­ing to be hon­ored for their ac­tion in bat­tle more than 70 years ago.

Two sat in wheel­chairs, one had a cane propped between his knees.

The event that brought the five North­ern Colorado res­i­dents to­gether, along with a crowd of about 100 fam­ily mem­bers, friends and well-wish­ers, was a cer­e­mony con­ducted by the French govern­ment to honor the sol­diers for help­ing lib­er­ate France from Nazi con­trol in 1944 dur­ing World War II.

Jef­frey Richards, honorary con­sul of France in Colorado, pinned a medal on the chest of each one denot­ing that they had been be­stowed the rank of che­va­lier (knight) in the Na­tional Or­der of the Le­gion of Honor. It is France’s high­est honor, ac­cord­ing to the con­sulate.

Af­ter the cer­e­mony, Love­land res­i­dent Oliver Lee Bashor said what al­most ev­ery old vet­eran tells a re­porter, or a grand­child, who asks about his ser­vice: “All we did was do what we were sup­posed to do and do the best you can.”

That, how­ever, is not what the peo­ple con­duct­ing the cer­e­mony said. “Th­ese men were the heart of the Great­est Gen­er­a­tion,” said master of cer­e­monies Wes­ley West, a re­tired U.S. Air Force colonel, in ref­er­ence to the book by Tom Brokaw.

Army Col. Scott Sher­man, chief of the joint staff of the Colorado Na­tional Guard, also spoke at the event, held in the gym of the Na­tional Guard’s Wind­sor Readi­ness Cen­ter.

“I’m hon­ored to thank th­ese he­roes sit­ting here to­day for their courage and de­vo­tion to the great cause of free­dom,” he said. “You sac­ri­ficed and re­ally forged peace and made the United States and Western Europe pros­per­ous and free.

“Your sac­ri­fices will never be for­got­ten,” Sher­man said.

On be­half of the French Repub­lic, Richards gave a pre­sen­ta­tion speech in French to each sol­dier as he pinned on the five-pointed star sus­pended from a bright red rib­bon. Then he kissed each man on both cheeks.

Fort Collins res­i­dent Le Moyne An­der­son said “merci” af­ter re­ceiv­ing his medal. Richard Mann of Mil­liken, who had been crack­ing jokes be­fore the cer­e­mony started, did him bet­ter with a hearty “merci beau­coup” when his time came.

Af­ter the cer­e­mony, Joe Hober­man of Love­land ac­knowl­edged the honor with hu­mil­ity.

“I feel that I ac­cept this honor on be­half of the bud­dies that are still in France,” the dec­o­rated in­fantry­man said, “and for the many more that just didn’t live long enough to re­ceive this honor. So on their be­half, I ac­cept it.

“I feel priv­i­leged,” he said.

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