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Area Vet To Receive French Legion Of Honor Medal

Paul Arnone, Jamestown resident and World War II veteran, will receive the French Legion of Honor medal at a ceremony in Ohio. P-J photo by Dennis Phillips

A Jamestown veteran will be awarded France’s highest distinction for his participation in the liberation of France during World War II.

Paul Arnone, 95, is one of six World War II veterans who will be honored during a ceremony that will start at 11:30 a.m. Saturday in Conneaut Township Park in Ohio.

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 service to the French Republic. Recipients of the 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 medals to the honorees during the annual D-Day Ohio event. The event marks the 75th Anniversary of the landings in Normandy and Southern France.

In September 2016, Arnone was the featured speaker at the Fenton History Center.

He talked about how he was the signal man on a U.S. Navy LST (landing ship, tank) during the D-Day invasion of Normandy June 6, 1944. The vessels were created during World War II to support amphibious operations by carrying vehicles, cargo and landing troops directly onto shore.

Arnone said by the time they reached France, the weather improved and the seas abated making for calmer water conditions. However, the war was about to start for the enlisted petty officer, first class. The LST Arnone was aboard was one of more than 1,200 ships in the English Channel for the invasion of Normandy.

Arnone said his LST made 27 trips between England and France during the invasion, landing on three of the five Normandy beaches. He said they brought food, medication, ammunition and clothing to the troops when they landed on the shores of Normandy. On return trips to England, the LST would carry injured soldiers to hospitals for medical attention. In talking about his experience, Arnone admitted to getting sick by the brutality of war.

In 2014, he returned to Normandy during the 70th anniversary of the D-Day invasion. He said it was surreal returning to Normandy, seeing for the first time the wide open and mostly empty beaches, which seven decades before was a crowded sight of soldiers, tanks and ships.

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