It was no ordinary day for 92-year-old Vince Rowell, but then again, he is no ordinary man. Vince was being awarded France’s highest honor for his service in WWII more than 70 years ago.
“[I am] very, very excited,” he said about the ceremony. “I don’t think I’ve been this excited since I was a little kid.”
Last Year, Vince received confirmation from the French Consulate that he, later in the year in Nashville, would be awarded France’s highest honor, but then, it was radio silence.
“Every day I’d go to the mailbox to see if I had gotten that confirmation and I hadn’t gotten it,” Vince said.
It turns out, somehow, Vince was overlooked.
“They called my friend, Daniel, and told us they would be giving some medals out in Montgomery AL and would I be willing to drive 500 miles to get,” Vince said. “I’d have driven 1,000 miles to get this.”
Vince, a part of the 29th Infantry, fought all the way through France and at the Battle of the Bulge, but not before storming Omaha Beach in Normandy in the Second Wave on D-Day.
“When I saw from the ship, from the LST what was going on in the first wave, I was scared to death,” he said. “I didn’t know if I’d live beyond that beach or not. It was absolutely terrible. I’ve never seen so much carnage in my life.”
The country where Vince was willing to sacrifice it all, gave back to him their highest honor…the French Legion of Honor Medal.
“I never dreamed in my life that I would be receiving this medal,” Vince said. “It means so much to me because it is one of the highest honors that France gives out and to know that they thought that much of what I’d done for their country to honor me back with this medal, it really touches me.”