Oscar Russell of Biloxi hailed as a hero by the French - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

Oscar Russell of Biloxi hailed as a hero by the French

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Sixty-seven years after storming the beaches of Normandy in WWII, 88 year old Oscar Russell of Biloxi was awarded France's highest military medal, the Legion of Honor. Sixty-seven years after storming the beaches of Normandy in WWII, 88 year old Oscar Russell of Biloxi was awarded France's highest military medal, the Legion of Honor.
HATTIESBURG, MS (WLOX) -

On June 6th, 1944, 21 year old Oscar Russell stormed the beaches of Normandy, France, taking part in the brutal and bloody American liberation of that country from Nazi Germany. Wednesday, 67 years later, the 88 year old Biloxi veteran received France's highest military medal, the Legion of Honor.

The ceremony at Camp Shelby was powerful and poignant. A man who sacrificed so much for freedom, receiving so much thanks. Oscar Russell's grandson, Lt. Rodney Brock, spoke first.

"My grandfather has inspired me throughout my entire life," Brock said. "So to see him being honored here today in front of so many people, words cannot express how proud I feel." 

Representatives from the grateful nation offered thanks from the French people. Ms. Keltoum Rowland is the special French consul.   

"As a French citizen, I want to express the profound gratitude of my country to Oscar Russell, to his family and to all veterans for their services during World War II," Rowland said.  "They are truly, truly the greatest generation."

Members of the French military were steadfast in their praise of Russell's heroic efforts.  Lt. Commander Philippe Testart is the French liaison officer.   

"We will thank you today, bending our heads with humility, because you accepted to experience the worst to allow us to live the best," Testart said.  

After receiving the medal from the French government, Oscar Russell was his typical self, very humble and more than eager to thank his family.  

"My whole family, they are so much love to me," Russell said. "They call me just about every day and want to know how I'm feeling and how I'm doing." 

And the WWII veteran did not forget about Americans serving today.  

"Thank God that we have young men who are willing to go to battle. If the United States falls, I think the world would fall too," Russell explained.   

Time for handshakes and hugs, and then another moving moment. Oscar Russell held his second great-grandchild for the first time, a fitting reminder of the future all soldiers fight to preserve.

To show just how much Oscar Russell is loved and respected, about 40 members of the church he attends drove up from the coast in a tour bus to watch the ceremony at Camp Shelby.

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