French honors D-Day vet despite questionable story

Last weekend, the French government awarded a U.S. Army veteran with its highest military award, the Chevalier de la Legion d’Honneur (Legion of Honor), amid controversy here in the U.S.

According to the Boston Herald, Howard Manoian, a retired cop from New Hampshire, has long claimed to be a D-Day paratrooper who fought in the famous battle of The La Fiere Bridge at Normandy, June 6, 1944. His story has been well publicized, but another veteran stepped forward to doubt the story, prompting the Boston Herald to begin investigating Manoian’s claims. 

The Herald reported that “Howard Manoian told of landing behind enemy lines on D-Day as a paratrooper, but National Archives records prove he served as a member of a less glamorous chemical warfare unit that came ashore on Utah Beach and ran a supply dump.” They back up their conclusion with numerous reports and payroll records.

The French government knew of the controversy but planned to honor Manoian despite the discrepancies. "Mr. Manoian will receive the Legion of Honor based on the confirmed and established elements of his service, not on the contested ones. It is established that Mr. Manoian participated in the Normandy campaign and was wounded in action on French soil,” Alexis Berthier of the French Consulate told the Boston Herald.

Manoian has said he was shot and hit in both legs by shrapnel on the same day that records show he was evacuated to England after fracturing his middle finger.

Manoian, now age 84 and living in France, continues to stand by his story.

The fact that the French continued with its plans to award Manoian was not welcome news to several D-Day veterans and their family members.  

“To give the award to someone who has misrepresented his service for the past 30 years diminishes the value of the award,” Brian Siddall, nephew of the 82nd’s Cpl. Quent Siddall, who was killed on D-Day, told the Boston Herald.

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