KING, Wi. (WBAY) - Americans who serve in the military can earn medals of honor or special recognition for their sacrifice. But it isn’t every day that an American hero is honored by another country.
Robert Reigel, who just celebrated his 100th birthday, fought in four battles during WWII.
“He doesn’t like to talk about a lot of this stuff, he kind of puts it out of his mind, but he’s still very proud [of his service],” said Chuck Reigel, Robert’s son.
Robert’s earned a Victory Medal and other high honors, but his latest recognition isn’t coming from the American government.
“He’s a true American hero, and today, in a decision by the French president, he will become, officially, a true French hero,” said Guillaume Lacroix, the Consul General of France for the Midwest.
Robert was awarded the French Legion of Honour Medal on Sunday, the highest military distinction given for those who have accomplished exceptional deeds for France.
“I was so surprised, I had no idea this was coming,” said Chuck.
Chuck and many other family members came to the Wisconsin Veterans Home in King to witness the ceremony.
“I feel blessed to be a part of it, blessed to be his son and have him still alive so he can experience this,” said Chuck.
Lacroix wanted to not only recognize Robert, but all Wisconsin veterans who helped his country.
“They risked everything for us,” said Lacroix. “They risked everything for the freedom of America and the freedom of France, therefore it is very important for us to recognize their sacrifice.”
Though Robert’s service ended seven decades ago, his fight for freedom is something that will never be forgotten by America, or its allies.
“I’m very proud of him and very proud of his service,” said Chuck. “The fact that he got this medal is just frosting on the cake. So it’s really very special.”