A Deserving Honor For A D-Day Vet

The French President Francois Hollande, awarded D-Day vet Bob Sales with the Legion of Honor. He was only 18 years old when he joined the United States Army and when he was first taken on a British ship from Central Virginia to D-Day on June 6, 1944, on the beaches of Normandy.

He enlisted in the Virginia Guard in 1941, after lying about his age because all he wanted was to be able to join the military service. The vet recalled the day he was on the ship and the sea was so rough that soldiers became even more scared of what was going to happen, “but they were putting on a good front,” he said. He remembered how the invasion took place, when his company of 200 soldiers were approaching the beaches in six boats, with the “Bedford Boys” of Company A just about 10 minutes away from them.

The German fire started as soon as the American soldiers crossed the beach on the coast of France. Sales admitted that he had never imagined anything like it. He was the only one to survive the landing of his aircraft that day, while the other 29 members of the crew lost their lives. He was promoted to staff sergeant two weeks after the invasion. He remained on the front for six more months before getting wounded  and left partially blind in Germany.

Madison Heights D-Day veteran Bob Sales was awarded the Silver Star and three Purple Hearts, among several other medals, for his service during the Second World War. On Feb. 11, he was awarded a new medal by French President Francois Hollande, who made him a knight of the French Legion of Honor. The 91-year-old vet was only one of the six Second World War veterans chosen to be awarded by the French President during his three-day visit to the United States, the News Advance reports.

Sales was very excited to receive the French medal and to put it together with the rest of them in his collection, saying that he is very proud of it. The president of the National D-Day Memorial in Bedford, April Cheek-Messier said that Sales is a humble man who insists talking about his fellow comrades who lost their lives in the war, rather than talking about himself. “We have the highest and deepest respect and love for him,” said Cheek-Messier.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE