Raymond Velasco, native of San Juan Bautista, was awarded the French Legion of Honor on Memorial Day for participation in the invasion of Normandy and meritorious service in the liberation of France during World War II.
The award was presented to Mr. Velasco and six other veterans in San Francisco by Romain Serman, Consul General of France. The medal is presented for courage and bravery and is the highest form of recognition awarded by the French government. Approximately 250 guest were in attendance.
“I am particularly honored today to celebrate seven American heroes whose faith, courage, and sacrifice contributed, more than 60 years ago, to the preservation of our common values: democracy, freedom, tolerance, and justice,” Serman said.
Mr. Velasco enlisted in the Army in March 1943 at age 18. He served as a rifleman in the 3rd Army under General George Patton and saw combat in Eastern France. He was wounded at Metz, France in 1944, for which he was awarded the Purple Heart.
“I’m proud to have served in France,” Velasco said.
In total, Mr. Velasco’s military career spanned 24 years, during which time he served in Europe, Korea, and throughout the United States. He was awarded a second Purple Heart for wounds sustained in Korea.
A longtime resident of Hollister, Mr. Velasco now lives in Elk Grove, Calif.