Jackson, Miss. Eleven World War II veterans from Mississippi have a prestigious medal to add to their collections. The Rev. Edsol Wells of Lauderdale is among them.
Decades after the war, the French government thanked Mississippi veterans formally for their roles in liberating France. The medal symbolizes that nation's highest honor.
"When this war broke out we had a world to save," said Legion of Honor recipient Joseph Johnson. "You see some people here today that helped save the world. This is history. This is great history."
The years have weakened the men physically. Their spirits are strong and grateful.
Most of the men had never met before the ceremony. But they all fought for the same cause.
"We were just like brothers in combat and it was a wonderful honor and it was a wonderful honor to sit here with all the veterans," said Legion of Honor recipient, Bill Correll.
Once again, they stood proudly, one of them even wearing his uniform. Still, some had mixed emotions about getting the recognition.
"I don't feel like I deserve it, because in our 394th bomb group, moving across France, three thousand of our men lost their lives during that time," said Wells. "It's through the grace of God that I'm here."
This medal will never be worn by Gerald Campbell. He passed away in May. But his grandson accepted it on his grandfather's behalf.
"He never really talked about it, being in the service, so just hearing what he did was a great honor," said Ian Campbell, Gerald's grandson.
The French consul general presented the awards to the veterans this week.