France honors ‘a true American hero’

Lynn Aas receives France’s highest honor

Eloise Ogden/MDN World War II veteran Lynn Aas, left, and Guillaume Lacroix, Consul General of France in Chicago, are shown after Lacroix presented Aas with the French Legion of Honor medal, France’s highest honor awarded by the president of France. Through the award, the French government pays tribute to the soldiers who did so much for France and Western Europe more than 70 years ago. Aas received the award at a ceremony held in Minot on Monday. The medal is on his jacket’s left lapel.

“You are a true American hero,” Guillaume Lacroix, Consul General of France in Chicago, told Minot World War II veteran Lynn Aas before presenting the Minot man with France’s highest honor, the French Legion of Honor medal.

“Without you I would not be here. Without you the French flag would not be flying. Thank you very much for your services,” said Lacroix to Aas at a ceremony in Minot attended by many of Aas’ family members and friends on Monday.

Lacroix became Consul General of France in Chicago in August. He has never been to North Dakota or to Minot before arriving here on Monday to present his country’s highest award to Aas.

He said France will never forget what was done for them and what they owe the American people. He said this country is France’s oldest ally. “We have never been at war with the U.S. – never,” Lacroix said.

Before receiving the medal from Lacroix, Aas, who was wearing a suit jacket, changed to his World War II Army jacket. Lacroix pinned the medal on the Army jacket.

Aas, who was 96 on June 4, entered the Army in 1942 and fought as a rifleman in the historic Battle of the Bulge, serving with the 17th Airborne Division of the 193rd Airborne Infantry in the Europe Theatre. He received both the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart.

Three years ago, he had the honor of being the official representative of the 17th Airborne Division at the 70th annual reenactment of the historic Battle of the Bulge in the town of Bastogne, Belgium.

After receiving the medal from Lacroix, Aas told those gathered in the Minot Auditorium’s Room 201 for the ceremony, “It is truly humbling to me to know that you have awarded this to me.”

“I accept this with honor and grace. We have always been friends of the French.” He said he was proud to receive the medal and expressed a sincere thank you to France.

Noting those who spoke prior to the medal presentation, Aas said many of them have talked about World War II veterans coming home and how they have made many changes in this country.

Ceremony speakers included Minot Mayor Chuck Barney serving as master of ceremonies, Senators John Hoeven and Heidi Heitkamp, Congressman Kevin Cramer and Maj. Gen. Alan Dohrmann, adjutant general of the North Dakota National Guard. Many shared stories about Aas and noted the sacrifices veterans have made for this country in fighting for freedom. Minot American Legion Post No. 26 and Pastor Brandy Gerjets of First Lutheran Church, Minot, also participated in the ceremony.