Five World War II veterans receive France's highest honor

Posted at 7:27 PM, Oct 23, 2017
and last updated 2017-10-23 22:27:34-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- Five World War II veterans who live in Southern California received France’s highest civilian honor Monday.

The honorees included a B-17 navigator, two infantrymen, a nurse and a forward artillery observer.

Standing isn’t easy for Staff Sergeant Gerhard Lorenz. Lorenz was born in Germany, but served in the U.S. Army during World War II.

Lorenz’s battle brought him back into Germany where he was seriously injured and lost his leg. He made the sacrifice, serving America and supporting France.

Second Lieutenant Helen Cronk was an army nurse who cared for wounded soldiers after they landed on D-Day. “During the war I was in the battle of Normandy,” said Cronk. “The men were still coming down you know. You wouldn't want to watch it.”

Cronk was one of five World War II veterans to earn the National Order of the Legion of Honor. “It's sort of overwhelming because I'm the only woman to be getting all this,” said Cronk. “But I guess I earned it.”

The award is France’s highest honor. As a Forward Artillery Observer in the Army, John Roach saw a lot of friends fall. Captain Bob Shulit deployed to France in 1945. He first cleared German mines and worked as a gunner.

Air Force Veteran Colonel Douglas Willet flew B-17s over France. “I feel very honored. Very honored to be awarded this medal by the French government,” said Willet.