Congratulations to Local WWII Veteran on French Legion of Honor Award
by Lamar Smith on September 25, 2012 at 12:13 PM
A local area veteran was formally awarded the “Chevalier de la Legion d’Honneur” at an event in Paris yesterday for his service to the French people during World War II. U.S. Army Lt. Colonel Robert E. Kelso received the award for his personal contribution as a member of the U.S. Army in the liberation of France during World War II. The Legion of Honor was created by Napoleon in 1802 to acknowledge service rendered to France by persons of great merit.
Lt. Colonel Kelso, 82, is believed to be the youngest living American veteran of World War II. He was drafted into the U.S. Army at age 13 in 1944 because of a mistake on his draft board records. Despite his young age, he convinced his mother to let him serve his country. He went on to fight in Europe with an armored field artillery battalion. He was wounded in battle and became the youngest American soldier serving in Europe to receive the Purple Heart during World War II.
Today I congratulated Lt. Colonel Kelso for the honor and thanked him for his service to America.
Lt. Colonel Kelso’s extraordinary courage at such a young age is a reminder of why his generation is often called the Greatest Generation. Lt. Colonel Kelso served his country with distinction. But he also served the citizens of France by helping to liberate them from the Nazi regime. This medal is a small token of gratitude that represents the tremendous sacrifice made by hundreds of thousands of Americans to free Europe from Nazi rule. I congratulate Lt. Colonel Kelso for this award and thank him for his service to America and to all mankind.
I worked with the French Embassy in Washington, D.C. to help arrange the award ceremony in Paris, France. The event took place at Les Invalides, a complex of buildings containing museums and monuments related to the military history of France, as well as a hospital and retirement home for war veterans.
Lt. Colonel Kelso and his wife live in San Antonio, Texas.