TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) — This year marks the 75th anniversary of the Normandy and Southern France landings.
That commemoration found its way to Terre Haute Sunday by honoring a local World War II veteran with France’s highest honor.
94-year-old Jimmie Royer now holds the Legion of Honor, which is France’s highest distinction, for his service over 70 years ago in liberating the country during World War II.
“It just blows my mind. And I’ll tell you, I never in my wildest dreams dreamed of anything like this happening to me,” Royer said.
Jimmie Royer was inducted into the U.S. Army in 1943 and participated in Normandy, Northern France, and Rhineland Campaigns.
In October of 1944, Royer was wounded and honorably discharged from service in 1945.
“I come out of it and they sent me home and it took me a long time to learn how to walk. Then everything got alright, and I’m still walking. I thank the lord every day,” he said.
The ceremony was not only meant to honor Royer for his bravery, but to remind the community of an important piece of American history.
“This generation risked everything for the freedom that we enjoy today. Freedom is not free and it is so important but also vital to know that,” said Consul General of France Guillaume Lacroix.
It’s also a moment Jimmie Royer said he’s grateful for.
“It’s such an amazing, amazing thing that happened in my life. And I’m still here to partake of it,” he said.
For his service in World War II, Royer received the European-African-Middle Eastern campaign ribbon with three bronze stars, the Good Conduct Medal and the Purple Heart.
Mayor Duke Bennett announced in a proclamation that September 29 will be Jimmie H. Royer Day in Terre Haute.