French President Emmanuel Macron on Wednesday will present the highest honor France has to offer to two Frederick County veterans who helped liberate the country during World War II.
The two veterans, 98-year-old Samuel Davis and 96-year-old Carl Felton, are among other honorees who will be declared knights in the Legion of Honor at the French Embassy in Washington, D.C.
The legion — Ordre National de la Légion d’honneur, as it’s officially known — has nearly 80,000 members, according to the Grand Chancery of the Legion of Honor.
Each year, about 2,200 French people and 300 foreigners are inducted into the order, which was created by Napoléon Bonaparte in 1802 as a way to recognize the achievements of both military service members and civilians.
To join the Legion of Honor, Felton and Davis each had to provide documentation of their military service to prove that they served in France during World War II and helped liberate the country.
Sandy Turney, Davis’ daughter, helped her father submit the necessary paperwork for the recognition in February.
She didn’t hear anything from the French Embassy until earlier this month, when she received an email, inviting her father to an award ceremony.
When she saw who would be presenting her father with the honor, she said in an interview on Tuesday, she almost fell out of her chair.
“I just could not believe what I was reading,” she said.
Macron will be in America this week for his first state visit during Joe Biden’s presidency. The two presidents are scheduled to meet at the White House on Thursday, where — according to The Associated Press — Russia’s war in Ukraine is expected to be at the top of their list of discussion points.
Davis, who resides at an assisted living facility in Adamstown, joined the U.S. Army in 1943, and was discharged in 1946.
He served with Company A of the 157th Engineer Combat Battalion, journeying across Central Europe, through Germany and France, before landing in Salzburg, Austria, toward the end of the war.
He will be accompanied at the award ceremony by Turney, as well as a married couple who live at the same facility. Both of them are originally from France, and the husband grew up in one of the towns Davis helped liberate. He was a young boy when Davis and his fellow service members entered his village.
Felton lives in an assisted living facility in Frederick. He received the Legion of Honor medal in the mail earlier this year but will participate in the official award ceremony on Wednesday.
After joining the U.S. Navy at the age of 17, Felton was stationed on the HMS Ceres during the Allied invasion of Normandy. He manned a signal tower in the French town of Cherbourg after D-Day, where he sent and received messages about the war effort from ships on the coast.
“He didn’t start talking about it until, I think, five years ago, when he told us all the stuff that he saw,” his son, Jack Felton, said in an interview on Tuesday.
Carl Felton will be accompanied by his son; his granddaughter, Olivia Felton; and his daughter-in-law, Jackie Felton.
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