Utah World War II veteran Dean Larson received the French Legion of Honor award Thursday at the Utah State Capitol.
The Legion of Honor is France’s highest distinction and is awarded to civilians and soldiers who risked their lives fighting for France. The award is only given to a few Americans each year, making it all the more special for Dean Larson, who flew 33 combat missions in a B-17 bomber during the war, including two over the coast of Normandy on D-Day.
In presenting the award, Honorary Consul of France in Utah Marie-Hélène Glon, expressed her deepest gratitude for Larson’s service.
“More than 70 years ago you rescued people you did not know, but you can be sure that those people have not forgotten you," she says. "Their children, their grandchildren have not forgotten. We will never forget.”
Larson, who is 90 years old, says he’s humbled by receiving such an honor.
“I didn’t expect anything like this," he says. " This is so great to be honored. There are many of my fellow military men that could qualify for this, but I was lucky enough to get the medal.”
For his service in World War II, Larson has also received the purple hart for injuries he received during a mission over southern France as well as five Air Medals, two bronze stars, and a Presidential Distinguished Unit Citation.