Honored at last
Legion of Honor medal arrives
too late for veteran to see it
By Becky DirksHaugsted
Published on this site by permission of the Anamosa Journal-Eureka
Imagine being inside a
vehicle taking you to war and hearing bullets strike the ramps that had yet to
be lowered. Already weakened from seasickness, you still had to wade to shore
then cover another 200 yards of open beach until reaching your objective beyond
That was the scenario faced
by Robert Laurence “Bob” Davis as a young first lieutenant with the 29th Infantry
Division as an artillery forward observer landing on Omaha Beach in France on
D-Day in June 1944. He had just had his 22nd birthday less than a month before.
To these brave men, nearly 70
years later, France awarded the French Legion of Honor Medal.
Just last week, Mulford
received the letter that her father had been awarded France’s highest
Davis never learned he
received the prestigious award. He died Sunday, Dec. 30. The letter notifying
Davis that he had been appointed a Knight of the Legion of Honor was signed on
Davis and his daughter, Nancy
Mulford, had seen a notice in the “Twenty-Niner Newsletter” that veterans of
World War II who served in one of the four major campaigns in the liberation of
France were eligible for the French Legion of Honor Medal. The campaigns
included Normandy, Southern France, Northern France and the Ardennes.
Mulford encouraged her father
to apply for the honor in April 2012, knowing the process would take several
Proof had to be submitted
that Davis served in France. His military separation record and other
decorations earned while serving in France, were submitted. Davis’ military
honors included the Bronze Star with Oak Leaf Cluster, European-African-Middle
Eastern Campaign Medal with four bronze stars, and the Purple Heart.
In the letter accompanying the award French Consul General Graham
Paul wrote, “Through this award, the French government pays tribute to the
soldiers who did so much for France and Western Europe. More than 65 years ago,
you gave your youth to France and the French people.”
Davis served in the Army
during World War II From October 1942 until November 1945. He earned his two
Bronze Stars in July 1944 and in October 1944. His Purple Heart was earned at
the same time as his first Bronze Star in July 1944. Davis also earned the
American Defense Medal and the World War II Victory Medal
Like many others, when he
returned home, Davis married his sweetheart, Dorothy Klaus, in 1946. They had two children, Nancy and Steven.
“It is hard for me to picture
my father in war,” Mulford said. “He was always a gentleman to us.”
Bob farmed, operated a farm
store in Colesburg, managed a fertilizer plant in Mechanicsville and later
worked in the bank. Retirement took them
to Mount Vernon for a number of years, then to Cedar Rapids and, in recent
years, to Anamosa.
Bob and Dorothy loved to
travel and in 1991, retraced his journey through France after the D-Day
In October 2011, Davis was
thrilled to go on an Honor Flight to Washington, D.C., with fellow World War II
veteran John Parham Sr. and his son-in-law Dennis Mulford as guardian.
“Even though he might not
have said too much, he would have been real pleased.” Mulford said about her
father getting the award. “It is a wonderful acknowledgement of his service.”
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