Three Clermont County Veterans Receive France's Highest Recognition
Tuesday at the Tri-State Warbird Museum
This year France bestowed their highest honor to three local Clermont County Veterans for outstanding performance of duty in action during World War II (WWII). John Dinka, C. Don Fairbanks, and Carl E. Sims (known as Fuzzy) will receive the prestigious French Legion of Honor medal in a ceremony to be held at the Warbird Museum tomorrow.
The men are in their 90's and WWII Veterans. They risked their lives in the skies and on the beaches of Northern France in order to restore command and liberation from the German Nazi army. The Veterans are extremely proud to receive this high honor and many top ranked dignitaries will be there to congratulate them. The local Veterans of Foreign Wars will post the colors and provide the ceremonial honor guard tradition during the medal ceremony.
The Legion of Honor is a French order that was established by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1802. Created to recognize extraordinary contributions to the country, the Legion of Honor is France's highest distinction and is divided into five degrees: Chevalier (Knight), Officier (Officer), Commandeur (Commander), Grand Officier (Grand Officer) and Grand Croix (Grand Cross). Theoretically, membership in the Légion is restricted to French nationals; however, US Veterans who risked their life during World War II to fight on French territory may also be awarded. Those selected are appointed to the rank of Knight of the Legion of Honor, which is nearly the same recognition as membership in the Légion.
Frank Morrow, Senior Service Officer for the Clermont County Veterans' Service Commission said, "These men are not every day Veterans. They are part of the greatest fighting force ever assembled. They are the greatest generation." Morrow explained 'Fuzzy' nearly died during one of the beach landings. His ammunition and gear were so heavy that he began to drown, all he can recall is that someone he didn't know pulled him out of the water and they ran on. The Veterans being honored are thrilled the ceremony will be held at the Warbird Museum, they consider the museum a special place to visit and remember their era.
The Tri-State Warbird Museum (TSWM) is a historic aviation museum focused on WWII "warbird" aircraft. The world class museum is located in Clermont County and displays restored historical aircraft, several are among the most recognizable and highly pursued in the world. The Clermont County Airport is the only county airport in the U.S. that has not accepted federal funding and is not regulated by the FAA. Since its opening in 2005, approximately 1.5 million people have traveled to see the museum and Paul Redlich, President of the Warbird Museum, wants to see more visitors!
Redlich described the adventure of visiting the museum as an intimate way to experience aviation history and the sacrifice of the American people during World War II. Redlich said, "All who are involved with the operation of this museum are dedicated to remembering and honoring those who fought for our freedom and made the ultimate sacrifice for our country." The planes are exhibited in an open display which allows the opportunity for the public to get up close and personal with the aircraft.
The aircraft on display include a North American Aviation P-51 D Mustang (one of the 120 left in the world out of the over 15,000 created), an Eastern Aircraft (Grumman) TBM-3 Avenger, a Chance-Vought FG-1D Cosair, a North American Aviation AT-6D Texan, a Boeing PT-17 Stearman and a Focke-Wulf Fw-190 to name a few. Also among the exhibits is a replica of typical barracks used by members of the 353rd Fighter Group, part of the "Mighty Eight" Air Force, while based in Raydon, England during WWII. Artifacts include personal gear, uniform, and other visual reminders of the historical events and personal sacrifice of the time. Morrow describes Military aircraft as having a very distinct smell to it. He said, "The moment you walk into the museum the nostalgic air knocks you off your feet, you breathe it in deep and think to yourself I am home!"
The Warbird Museum will host the French Legion of Honor Medal Ceremony on February 12, 2013 at 1:00 p.m. Media is invited to attend. The museum is located in Batavia, adjacent to the Clermont County Airport at 4021 Borman Drive. Regular museum hours are Wednesdays from 4 to 7 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Daily admission is $12.00 Discounts are available to veterans and students. For more information, contact Denise Eldridge the Development Director at 513-735-4500 or visit their website www.tri-statewarbirdmuseum.org.