WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) -A World War II veteran from Ocean Isle Beach was given France’s highest merit Friday.
Robert Bradicich was chosen as a recipient of the Legion of Honor award by the president of France.
The award is bestowed upon French citizens as well as foreign nationals who have served France or the ideals it upholds, including individuals who have contributed to the country professionally, as well as veterans such as the Americans who risked their lives during World War II fighting on French soil.
Bradicich entered into active service in the Army in 1943.
He participated in the invasion of Normandy at Omaha Beach, the liberation of Colmar and the Battle of Hürtgen Forest in Germany, where he was wounded. Notably, his Division marched down the Champs-Elysées with the Free French Forces after the liberation of Paris.
“The government of France is thanking me for freeing the people of France from tyranny from Nazi Germany. A fantastic honor that the French government is bestowing on me. I thank them very much,” Bradicich said. “I didn’t say ‘I’m going to free these guys because I’m going to get a medal.’ I went up there to save those guys. Ok? And I brought them back and I brought them back alive. Only one of them was wounded by the enemy because the enemy spotted us and started firing at us.”
He says he will wear his medal proudly to honor those who were killed.
“So many men that did so much more that I feel did, so much more that were killed. Nobody wrote them up. Nobody gave them a medal, so I wear it for those guys because they deserve it more than I do because I made it back and they didn’t,” Bradicich said. “I can’t think of anything that was better than this so far in my lifetime and that’s 94, almost 95 years old.”
Braddich has also been awarded the Bronze Star, Purple Heart and many other medals and honors.
Some of the best-known American recipients of the Legion of Honor include Generals Dwight D. Eisenhower and Douglas MacArthur and, as an institution, the United States Military Academy at West Point.