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French honor 34 vets

A grand tribute

PASADENA, Calif. — Louis Zamperini, a 97-year-old World War II hero, on Friday was named grand marshal of the 2015 Rose Parade.

Zamperini's story is the subject of the best-selling book “Unbroken,” which is being made into a movie directed by Angelina Jolie.

A track star who ran in the 1936 Berlin Olympics, Zamperini survived 47 days on an inflatable raft in shark-infested waters until being captured by the Japanese.

He said it was “such an honor” to be named grand marshal.

— AP

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By The Associated Press
Friday, May 9, 2014, 9:24 p.m.
 

WEST POINT, N.Y. — Almost 70 years after Joseph Federico was wounded and captured in the hedgerows of France, he was personally thanked Friday by that country's government during a heartfelt ceremony at the Military Academy.

The 88-year-old Belvidere, N.J., resident was among 34 World War II veterans decorated as knights of France's Legion of Honor in a ceremony leading up to the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings that began June 6, 1944. Many honorees had white hair and stooped postures and rose slowly to have the medals pinned to their chests. But, to a man, they said the honor was welcome seven decades after their service.

“I'm just lucky that I'm here to get this, you know, because it was awfully tough for all of us,” said Federico, who spent two months recovering from a shrapnel wound in his leg as a prisoner of war. “I lost good friends from my company, and it was terrible.”

Federico wore his new decoration on his blazer, just below his Purple Heart.

Consul General of France Bertrand Lortholary said it was important to show their gratitude at West Point in front of the cadets who will make up the next generation of American officers.

“Seventy years have passed ... and yet the memory of the sacrifice of American soldiers remains more vivid than ever in the villages of France — in Normandy, in Provence, in the Ardennes, whose cemeteries bear witness to war's cost in life,” Lortholary said. “I want to tell you that your example gives us inspiration.”

Francis Cocca, 90, said: “It's beyond words almost. ... I came home. I had one medal. I put it in a box and forgot it. Now look at this!”

 

 
 


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