WWII Veterans from South Dakota, Jimmy J. Traupel, 96, of Mitchell; Orville B. Lerew, 97, of Faulkton; and Kenneth R. Higashi, 97, of Spearfish, will be awarded France’s highest distinction for their participation in the liberation of France during WWII.
The French Legion of Honor is the highest distinction that France can bestow upon those who have achieved remarkable deeds for France. Founded by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1802, the National Order of the Legion of Honor recognizes eminent service to the French Republic. Recipients of this honor are named by decree signed by the President of the Republic.
Consul General of France to the Midwest region, Guillaume LACROIX, will officially present the Legion of Honor medal to the Honorees during three separate ceremonies.
Jimmy J. Traupel to be honored on Wednesday, August 21, at 10:30 a.m. at the Veterans Park (1st and Main Street) in Mitchell, In case of inclement weather, at the Corn Palace, 601 N. Main Street. S/Sgt. Traupel was a member of the 379th Bombardment Group, 8th Air Force. He flew 34 combat missions during WWII as a waist gunner in a B-17. He was awarded the Purple Heart Medal, the Air Medal with three (3) Oak Leaf Clusters, the Distinguished Flying Cross, the European-African-Middle Eastern Medal with two (2) Battle Stars, the Good Conduct Medal and one (1) Overseas Service Bar.
Veteran Orville B. Lerew to be honored on Thursday, August 22 at 11:00 a.m. at United Methodist Church, 1011 St John St. in Faulkton. S/Sgt. Lerew was a member of the United States Army, Troop “D” 87th Cavalry, 7th Armored Division where he was a platoon leader. He participated in the Northern France, the Rhineland, the Ardennes and Central Europe campaigns. He was awarded the Bronze Star Medal, the Purple Heart with one (1) Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster, the American Campaign Medal, the European-African-Middle Eastern Medal with four (4) Bronze Service Stars, two (2) Overseas Service Bars, the Honorable Service Lapel Button WWII, the WWII Victory Medal, and the Expert Badge with Carabine Bar.
Kenneth R. HIGASHI to be honored on Friday, August 23rd at 10:00am at Meier Hall – Black Hills State University Campus — Yellow Jacket Lane, Spearfish. Sgt. HIGASHI was a member of the C “Charlie” Company, 100th Infantry Battalion, 442nd Regimental Combat Team, a famous Japanese Americans special fighting force. During his service he was an infantry assault squad leader. He participated in the North Apennines, the Po Valley, the Rhineland (France: Vosges) and Southern France campaigns. For his service, he was awarded the Bronze Star Medal, the Purple Heart Medal, the Good Conduct Medal, the American Campaign Medal, the European-African-Middle Eastern Medal with three (3) Bronze Battle Stars, the WWII Victory Medal, the Distinguished Unit Badge with one (1) Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster, the Combat Infantryman Badge, The honorable Service lapel Button-WWII, the Sharpshooter Qualification Badge, two (2) Overseas Service Bars. He is also a recipient of the United States Congressional Gold Medal.