World War II Veteran Receives Highest French Honor
By Peggy Hodge, SMC Public Affairs
/ Published July 17, 2007
Los Angeles Air Force Base -- The Government of France presented to retired Air Force Lt. Col. William Brooks, a World War II veteran, the National Order of the Legion of Honor, July 3, at the Veterans Museum and Memorial Center, San Diego, Calif. This award is the highest honor that France bestows on its citizens and foreign nationals.
In recognition of the 60th anniversary of the landing of the Allied Forces at Normandy, France, June 6, 1944, approximately 100 Legion of Honor medals are awarded every year to American World War II veterans with distinguished records in France.
Lieutenant Colonel Brooks, 86, of San Diego., served with the 572nd Bomb Squadron, 391st Bomb Group, 9th Air Force. His combat record included 54 missions over Europe from February to August 1944, including bombing enemy artillery positions in support for the D-Day landings and the subsequent Battle for Normandy.
On August 8, 1944, he bailed out of his flak-damaged bomber over Normandy and struggled to open his parachute. When it finally opened, he made a hard landing and fractured his spinal column. He was subsequently captured by the Germans and spent nine months in Prisoner of War camps until liberated in May 1945 at Stalag VII-A in Moosberg, Germany, by the U.S. 3rd Army.
Majors Dale Winger and John Burtoft from the Space and Missile Systems Center represented the Air Force and briefly spoke at this ceremony.
"Lt. Col. Brooks, sir, you are the embodiment of the Airman's Creed. You are a living example of the Proud Heritage, Tradition of Honor, and Legacy of Valor the Airman's Creed is about," said Maj. Winger.
"It is an honor and a privilege for us to represent the Air Force at this ceremony and to say thank you on behalf of my generation of men and women who serve today in your United States Air Force."