Charlotte-area WWII vets awarded France's highest honor - WBTV 3 News, Weather, Sports, and Traffic for Charlotte, NC

Charlotte-area WWII vets awarded France's highest honor

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We think of them as "The Greatest Generation, and Friday afternoon, the few remaining heroes in our area gathered together under one roof, to receive a foreign nation's highest honor.

The men got together to receive The National Order of the Legion of Honor, the highest honor in France. Each of the men helped liberate the French in 1944 and 1945.

"I'm honored and I thank everyone who came out today," said Olin McKee, an Army veteran living in Rock Hill.

McKee joined nine other World War II veterans. They sat in front of Denis Barbet, the Consul General of France in Atlanta. Barbet says French leader Napoleon Bonaparte created the award in 1802.

"I didn't anticipate this," 92-year-old Albert Mancinelli told WBTV.

Mancinelli says a health scare a few months ago almost took his life, but now he's feeling better and is glad he met other veterans at the ceremony.

"It's wonderful. I'm thankful that I'm here. I thank God many days," he said.

Navy veteran Jack MacNaughton sat a few chairs down from Mancinelli. He told WBTV  that 2014 brings back vivid memories.

"On D-Day I was in the first wave of the invasion at Omaha Beach," he said.

McNaughton, 89, insists his memories will never fade.

"I was 19, so I didn't know what it was all about but I sure found out after that day," he said.

Barbet presented the medals on behalf of French President François Hollande.

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