By: Larry Weston
Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy gave his highest honor to two local residents who fought in World War II’s most famous battles in Europe.
In May, Larry Weston and William Wallach, both of Kingspoint of Tamarac were each dubbed “Chevalier,” or Knight, in the National Order of the French Legion of Honor which was founded by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1802.
At the ceremony held in the Boynton Beach Civic Center, each man was decorated with the Legion of Honor Medal and received a Certificate of Appreciation from Gael de Mainsonneuve, Florida’s Consul General of France.
“It is essential for the French Government to say thanks,” said Maisonneuve. “Your sacrifices and those of your brethren are an example to all of us. This honor rewards eminent military and civil accomplishments in the service of France and is the highest distinction that can be granted in France to a French citizen as well as to a foreigner.”
That evening, 22 Americans and one Briton who were recognized and honored by France for their participation in the liberation of their country from under the heel of Nazi occupation. All the men fought at Normandy, the Ardennes, the Battle of the Bulge, or in Northern France. Some had already received America’s highest military honors, but being knighted by the French had special significance for both Weston and Wallach.
Larry Z. Weston
Larry Weston landed at Le Havre, France with the 65th Infantry Division. This division saw a lot of action when they fought the Nazi war machine across France and Germany ending in Linz, Austria with the Germans surrendering on May 9, 1945. Weston’s unit was cited as advancing further east than any other American group by meeting the Russian Army at the Danube River.
During Weston’s 14 months overseas as a combat infantryman, he was decorated with the Bronze Star, the Combat Infantry Badge and the Presidential Unit Citation. Upon his return to the United States, Weston was awarded the New York State Conspicuous Service Cross by then Governor Thomas E. Dewey. Having enlisted at the age of 18, he was honorably discharged in March 1946, after having served four years. Weston currently lives with his wife Sandy in the Weldon neighborhood of Kingspoint.
Bill Wallach enlisted in the United States Navy in April 1943 at the young age of 17. On June 6, 1944, Wallach and his shipmates patrolled just off the Normandy coast as part of the American invasion force on the SC1329, a 110 foot long submarine chaser, with a crew of 27 men and three officers. Their small ship was under constant fire from the German artillery located on the heights above the beaches. At one point, Wallach’s ship narrowly escaped disaster when a much larger vessel tangled anchor chains and nearly caused the ship to capsize. The SC1329 was the first American ship into the port of Le Havre France after it was secured.
Wallach currently lives in the Granville neighborhood of Kingspoint along with his wife, Marilyn.
Both Weston and Wallach have been friends for over thirty years and met while they were living in Inverrary in Lauderhill before both moving to Kingspoint.
Weston said, “We’re extremely grateful to have been selected for this recognition and great honor nearly seventy years after the war.”
Story and Photos Submitted by Larry Weston – Kingspoint