Local WW2 Soldiers to Get French Legion of Honor

Reported by: Bill Mitchell

Edited by: Ashley Henderson
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Updated: 7/05/2013 8:31 am
HARRISON, TN. (WDEF)- World War Two ended 68 years ago.
But France has not forgotten the sacrifices made by U.S. troops who liberated large portions of the country.
Three former soldiers from this area will be going to Nashville next week to receive the French Legion of Honor.

The war in Europe was almost over in when the Germans launched the battle of the bulge in December 1944.
France was again threatened by Nazi troops...and the U-S hurriedly sent thousands more troops there.
One of them was 19 year old Herman Finnell from Cleveland, Tennessee.
He and his wife, Jo got married as allied troops finished the war.
Jo and her sister, Hazel will accompany Herman to Nashville next Tuesday to receive the French Legion of Honor.
He found out last year the French were seeking out U.S. Soldiers who fought there.

HERMAN FINNELL, FORMER ARMY SERGEANT "I got a letter six months later..in December, that they had notified that I would be eligible for this reward."

Finnell spent most of his civilian career working at Oak Ridge.
He retired to Harrison 23 years ago.
But he sometimes reflects on his years in uniform.

HERMAN FINNELL "Me, I just got out of high school..finished basic training and more or less..and off we went. Uh, you know, you just don't know what to think..you just hopefully you can be at the right place at the right time."

Herman is one of 10 Tennesseans who will receive the medal from the French Counsel General.
The Legion of Honor is the highest honor bestowed for eminent service to the country.
But, like so many former service members, Herman says it boils down to just doing your part.

HERMAN FINNELL "I'm an old farm boy. And being a country boy like that, you know what you've got to do..you know what you should do...and you do it. And that's what we done."

Two other former soldiers from the Tennessee Valley will also be in Nashville for the awards ceremony next Tuesday.
They are William D. Moon of Chattanooga, and James R. Massengale from Hixson.

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