U.S. veteran awarded France’s highest honor for WWII service

A Sacramento man who served as an Army pilot during World War II has been awarded the French government’s highest honor.

The Sacramento Bee reports that 91-year-old Gene McDonald was presented with the rank of National Order of the Legion of Honor on Oct. 14 at the French Consulate in San Francisco.

McDonald began flying missions over German-occupied France during the war when he was 20. He joined the Army in 1943 and trained as a fighter pilot in Texas.

He flew 67 fighter-bomber missions over Europe and has been awarded a dozen medals, including the Distinguished Flying Cross, awarded to pilots who display heroism or extraordinary achievement in combat.

The decoration, the Legion of Honour, was established to recognize extreme merit by French citizens in either military or civilian life. However, the publicly incorporated body that regulates the award authorizes its presentation to select foreign nationals who have served France, including some allied combat veterans who fought on French soil.

The decoration, the Legion of Honour, was established to recognize extreme merit by French citizens in either military or civilian life. However, the publicly incorporated body that regulates the award authorizes its presentation to select foreign nationals who have served France, including some allied combat veterans who fought on French soil.

 

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