CROCKETT, TX (KTRE) - It has taken 70 years for one East Texan to receive a notable honor. Crockett resident Leroy Bass landed on the beaches of Normandy, France three days after D-Day.
On the anniversary of the pivotal battle, the 89-year-old will receive the French Legionnaire medal, an honor given to non-French citizens for actions that benefited the country. Bass will receive the French Legionnaire medal on June 6 at 9 a.m. at a ceremony on the deck of the USS Texas at the Battleship Texas Historic site in Houston.
On D-Day, Bass and his company landed in Scotland and then got ready to be transported to France.
Bass said that he will always remember the day he landed in France.
"That's when hell opened up," Bass said. "So much happened that I can't think to tell it all. Some were good and some bad."
Bass was only 18 and fresh out of Center Grove High School in Lovelady when his company with the 3rd Army landed in Normandy three days after the Allies started their attack on the Nazis.
"Our company had 316 men, and from the beach to where we were going, there was only 16 in our company left," Bass said.
Bass said as he battled up the beach, he knew dodging German bullets had to be done.
"There was several times I thought I would not make it back, but by the help of God, I did," Bass said.
Bass earned four Bronze Stars for his European battles and knows a time will come when World War II memories will only be told in books. Bass said he hopes the sacrifice his friends made on the beaches of France do not go forgotten.
"I hope they remember that what we were over there for was to save the United States," Bass said. "That's what we were fighting for; to keep them from coming over here."
Bass doesn't have much from his war days, but said the French Legionnaire medal he will receive will be one of his greatest honors.
"They didn't have to do it, but they thought enough of what we did for them to do something for us," Bass said.
It will be one he will always hold in his heart.