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Three WWII American veterans who are residents of the Chelsea Soldiers’ Home were recently bestowed France’s highest honor, the Légion d’Honneur (Legion of Honor). Secretary of the Massachusetts Department of Veterans Services, Francisco Ureña, joined the French Consul General, Valéry Freland, to present France’s highest civil and military distinction to James Baker, Léo Defilippo, and Michael Maglio.

“You are true heroes and will be our heroes forever. We, French, will never forget what you did to restore our freedom. And today, we also remember the ultimate sacrifice of so many of your comrades who now rest on French soil. They will remain forever in our hearts.” – Consul General, Valéry Freland

Photo Credit : © French Consulate in Boston

Photo Credit : © French Consulate in Boston

 

On March 10, 2016 Baker, Defilippo and Maglio were awarded the Legion of Honor for their bravery and heroism and for their outstanding contribution to the liberation of France during World War II.

James Baker was born in Chelsea, Mass. and was drafted into the U.S. Army from 1942 through May 1946 where participated as a truck driver in the campaigns of Southern France. He was wounded in the battle of Saint-Tropez, in August 1944. Baker is the recipient of the following awards: World War II Victory Medal, European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with one Bronze Service Star and American Theatre Campaign Medal.

Léo Defilippo was born in Roxbury, Mass., and was drafted into the U.S. Army from 1941 to August 1945 and participated as a power plant operator in the campaigns of Northern France, Rhin and Central Europe. He has been awarded the European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with three Bronze Service Stars.

Michael Maglio, born in Boston, was incorporated in U.S. Army from 1942 to October 1945, and participated in the campaigns of Normandy and Northern France, Rhin and Central Europe. Mr. Maglio received the Good Conduct Medal and four Bronze Service Stars.

“I am extremely honored that the French General Consulate has recognized the sacrifices of our veterans’ of our greatest generation who participated in the liberation of France during WWII. We urge other veterans who may qualify for this distinct honor to come forward and recognized for their service.”  –  Francisco A. Ureña – Secretary, Department of Veterans Services

Since 2005, the French government has awarded nearly 50 veterans a year in New England. Staff from the Chelsea Soldiers’ Home recognized that these residents qualified for the honor and assisted in the application process.

“We were pleased to see our Veterans receive this distinguished Honor from France. It was a wonderful tribute to our Veterans and highly appreciated by our families. It was a great day for the Veterans and the Soldiers’ Home in Chelsea.” – Cheryl Poppe superintendent, Chelsea Soldiers’ Home

About the Legion of Honor: Established in 1802 by Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte, it is exclusively awarded in cases of exemplary military and civilian services. It is the oldest and highest honor in France. It was awarded to you by decree of the President of the French Republic, Mr. François Hollande. Every year since the 60th anniversary of D-Day, France recognizes many American veterans of the World War II for their courageous service.

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