WWII vet from Eau Claire awarded top French award

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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (Wis)-- EAU CLAIRE, Wis (WEAU)-- An Eau Claire man receives France’s highest honor for his service in World War II.

At 92 years-old Richard Hogstad spends much of his time at home with his wife Carol enjoying the nature in their backyard.

But a gift dropped off at the door a few weeks ago brought with it a flood of memories.

Hogstad was awarded one of France’s highest military honors for his role to help liberate the country from Germany during WWII.

"I was 20 year's old when I was drafted, in October of 1942," said Hogstad.

Hogstad served as an Army Private. His platoon was sent to France to secretly monitor German army movements in 1944.

“Our job was to make contact with the enemy and then get out of there as fast as we can and bring back what we saw,” said Hogstad.

While trying to secure a bridge over the Rhine River Hogstad says his platoon came under heavy fire. He says three of the five men in his jeep were killed and a total of more than 12 hundred American soldiers lost their lives. Hogstad was shot in the hip and spent 6 weeks in a French hospital.

Hogstad reads a portion of the letter sent to him on behalf of France, “The Republic of France has named you Knight of the Legion of Honor for your valor in WWII. Our country men will never forget your sacrifice.”

Even with all his service, Hogstad says the award doesn't belong to him

"This award, as I see it, is not for me but for my fellow soldiers in the 95th and other divisions that lost their lives over there,” said Hogstad.
Hogstad was also awarded a Purple Heart and Silver Star.

After completing his military service in 1945, Hogstad returned to the University of Wisconsin-Stout, which was then called Stout Institute, using the GI Bill.
Every year, since 2005, the French government has awarded 100 American Soldiers who fought on French soil during WWII the Legion of Honor Award.

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