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American WWII veteran awarded France’s highest honor


Long time local retailer Samuel Meyer, 99, shows off a Stetson hat following ceremonies at the National World War II Museum, where he was awarded membership in the French Legion of Honor on Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2024, in New Orleans. The Associated Press/Photo by Kevin McGill

American WWII veteran awarded France’s highest honor

French Ambassador to the United States Laurent Bili on Tuesday bestowed Samuel Meyer with the rank of chevalier, or knight, of the National Order of the Legion of Honor. The 99-year-old veteran received the honor in a ceremony at the National World War II Museum in New Orleans. Meyer received the honor for his military service during World War II.

When did Meyer serve? Meyer was drafted into service in 1943 and was a corporal with the 485th Fighter Squadron, 370th Fighter Group, Ninth Air Force. He was stationed in Britain, Belgium, France, and Germany and was an armorer for fighter planes. After the war, Meyer was discharged and returned to New Orleans to work in his family’s business, Meyer The Hatter. He still works in the hat shop several days a week and will celebrate his 100th birthday in August.

What is the Legion of Honor? Napoleon Bonaparte established the national order in 1802, and membership is considered France’s highest honor. The award is given to individuals who have “carried out great value, forged by their own merits,” according to the legion’s website. American veterans who participated in liberating France during World War II are eligible for the honor.

Dig deeper: From the WORLD archives, read about three Americans and one Briton who received the honor for stopping an attacker on a Paris train.


Lauren Canterberry

Lauren Canterberry is a reporter for WORLD. She graduated from the World Journalism Institute and the University of Georgia with a degree in journalism, both in 2017. She worked as a local reporter in Texas and now lives in Georgia with her husband.


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