Samuel H. Robertson was honored with the National Order of the Legion of Honor, the highest honor France gives people who have achieved remarkable deeds for their country.
The 95-year-old received the award for service as part of the US Army’s 101st Airborne Division. He was part of the D-Day Normandy invasion that liberated France. He was one of three survivors when their glider crashed, according to the consulate general of France in Chicago. His letter was read by Representative Jody Richards, D-Bowling Green, during a ceremony presenting Robertson with the award.
Robertson joined the Army in March 1943 when he was 22 years old. He fought in Europe from November 1943 to November 1945. He was also part of Operation Overlord which was the first successful invasion of Western Europe occupied by Germany in WWII.
Robertson has also received the Distinguished Unit Badge, the Meritorious Unit Award, European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with five bronze stars, The Airborne Glider Badge, the Good Conduct Medal, the WWII Victory Medal and the Purple Heart.
Robertson’s brother, Lee, spoke at the ceremony. He said his brother never got to enjoy his childhood. He had to become the man of the house at the age of nine when their father could not work any longer.
First Lt. Dean Riggs, 101st Airborne, also spoke at the ceremony. He said how thankful he was for men like Robertson that were willing to volunteer when their nation required it.
Robertson teared up while the letter describing his actions in WWII was read aloud. He ran a little victory lap after receiving the medal and yelled how happy he was to be still alive, Bowling Green Daily News reported.
“There were a whole lot of people that were there at the same time that didn’t make it,” Robertson said. “I was lucky.”
Robertson’s children and grandchildren attended the ceremony. Robertson’s son contacted the French government nine months ago, and they began researching in order to verify his service in France during the war. They received notice less than a month ago that Robertson would receive the award.