Local veterans awarded highest French honor

SEATTLE — Three local veterans were today given the French Legion of Honor for their service during World War II.

It's France's highest honor and it comes just a month before the 75th anniversary of the D-Day invasion.

The three are Daniel McAllaster, Richard Nelms and Stanley Zemont.

McAllaster served in the Army Air Corps. He was a mechanic on the P-38 reconnaissance aircraft that mapped the French coast before the Normandy invasion.

“Glad to do it, I'm glad I'm here to tell about it because a lot of us didn't get to come home then.”

Nelms flew Boeing B-17's and says his first combat mission was 75 years ago this month.

“I was happy to be home alive and proud of the destruction we had done to Hitler's war machine. That was enough, that was our reward.”

Zemont was a demolition squad leader. He joined the fight after the D-Day invasion, battling though France, Belgium and Germany.

“The Battle of the Bulge. That was one that was hard for me and it was during the Battle of the Bulge that I stopped some German shrapnel.”

Today the French Consul-General came from San Francisco to remember their service with the Legion of Honor. The honor was first established by Napoleon.

“We know exactly what we owe to you personally. You will forever remain in our hearts.”

And the men who fought for the future have a message for the young.

"This country here is the greatest in the world. We all know that and I hope we can all appreciate it as much as these guys from my generation do.”

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