World War II veteran Samuel H. Robertson did a small victory lap around the Warren County Courthouse lawn Saturday after being honored with the National Order of the Legion of Honor, the highest honor France bestows upon those who have achieved remarkable deeds for the country.
The 95-year-old earned the honor for his service as part of the 101st Airborne Division of the U.S. Army, which led to his participation in the liberation of France during the Normandy landings on D-Day. Robertson was one of three survivors in his glider that crashed, according to a letter from the consulate general of France in Chicago read by Rep. Jody Richards, D-Bowling Green, during the ceremony.
Robertson entered service in March 1943 at the age of 22 and from November 1943 to November of 1945, participated in campaigns in Normandy, Ardennes and Central Europe, among others. He was an installer and repairman of telephone systems and took part in Operation Overlord, the first United States combat that launched the successful invasion of German-occupied Western Europe during WWII.
Robertson has been honored with other distinguished awards including 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.
During the ceremony, Lee Robertson, who also served in WWII, said a few words about his older brother and his accomplishments. He mentioned that his brother never got a chance to be a kid. At just 9 years old, Samuel became the man of the house after his father could no longer work.
“Small in stature, big in fight, that’s always been him. I’m proud of you brother,” Lee Robertson said.
First Lt. Dean Riggs of the 101st Airborne said a few words to honor Robertson for his service. He mentioned that he’s thankful for extraordinary men like Robertson who were willing and able to volunteer their service when this nation called for it.
Robertson was filled with tears as he listened to the letter being read recounting his experiences during WWII. He was filled with joy and as he ran in a circle during his victory lap, he yelled how thankful he was to still be alive.
“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 were present during the ceremony. His daughter Rebecca Warren said her brother contacted the French government about nine months ago and research began to verify her father’s participation in service with France. They found out that he was receiving the award less than a month ago.
“It’s just amazing. Of course our opinion of our father has always been high. He’s always been a wonderful example for us,” Warren said. “The morals that he was taught as a child went forward in his service to our country and all of Europe during WWII. … It’s amazing to us for him because it’s always something that he has held within himself, the honor of being able to participate.”
— Follow faith/general assignments reporter Simone C. Payne on Twitter @_SimonePayne or visit bgdailynews.com.