French Legion of Honor for Ernest Scango

On May 14, 2024 Ernest Scango, the last survivor of the 551st, was awarded the French Legion of Honor.
The French Legion of Honor, created by Napoleon in 1802, is the highest French award.

FOX NEWS 13 wrote an article about this ceremony

Speech made by Mr. Raphaël Trapp, French General Consul in Miami

Legion of Honor award ceremony for Mr. Ernest Scango.

Remise des insignes de la Légion d’Honneur à M. Ernest Scango, Vétéran
Tuesday, May 14 2024 at 2:30pm
Sunflower Springs, 8733 W Yulee Dr, Homosassa, FL 34448

Ladies and Gentlemen,
Dear Mr. Ernest Scango,
It is a privilege for me to express the gratitude of my country and to highlight the essential role you played during WWII.
I am deeply honored to fulfill one of my utmost important duties: to pay tribute to a war hero who came to France’s shores to liberate my country from a barbarian occupation. The recognition of those who served and fought for a free Europe is very important for my country, especially this year.
Indeed, 2024 marks the 80th anniversary of the Allied landings. On June 6, 1944, we will commemorate the D-Day and the Liberation of Normandy. On August 15, we will also honor the thousands of young men who landed in the South of France during the military operation “Anvil-Dragoon”. It is the landing to which you took part, Mr. Scango.
80 years ago, you and your brothers-in-arms left your country and risked you lives in the name of freedom. You fought for liberty and the fundamental values that our two countries, France and the US share dearly. Thanks to your selflessness and bravoure, your fight led to the victory of democracy over barbarism.
Last week, on May 8, the President of France commemorated this victory stating that it marked the end of an indelible period of terror opening at the same time a era of peace that we must preserve, even today, at any price!
Today, it is our duty to honor your courage and your actions, Mr. Scango.
Before providing the full account of your accomplishments dear Mr. Scango, let me thank the Sunflower Springs facility that is hosting this event and acknowledge the presence of :
– Mr. James Hartsell, Executive Director of the Florida Department of Veterans’ Affairs,
– Mr. Luis Laracuente, representing the US Senator Rick Scott,
– (Retired) Colonel Custin, representing the Congressman Gus Bilirakis,
– Mr. Phil Watson, the County Director of Veterans Services, who is representing the Citrus County’s Board of Commissioners,
– (Retired) Colonel of the French Army, Philippe Derathé and Maître Florian Guillotte that are representing General Christophe Hintzy, Head of the French Detachment at the US Central Command in Tampa;
– and your daughter, Linda Fieldhouse, who was instrumental in the preparation of this ceremony.
And last but not least, let me acknowledge the Veterans in the room that are the brother-in-arms of Mr. Scango. Thank you Gentlemen for sharing this important moment with us and for your service!

Mr. Ernest Scango, we are holding this ceremony to recognize your outstanding achievements.
I have been warned that you are very humble, and that for over 60 years, you didn’t want to be awarded. Let me assure you that you served heroically during World War II. You had a definite and direct role in the Liberation of France from the Nazi occupation.
Let me inform our audience about your particular service to your country as well as to mine.
Mr. Ernest Scango, you were born on January 8th, 1923 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
You were drafted into the U.S. Army on March 5, 1943 and a week after, at only 20 years old, you were called for active duty in New Cumberland, Pennsylvania.
After training at Fort Benning, Georgia, you joined as a Paratrooper in the 551st Paratroop Infantry Battalion. You then fought in various battles.
In August 1944, you participated in the military operation ‘Dragoon’, the successful landing of joint Allied forces allowing the liberation of key cities of France such as Toulon and Marseille, and the whole Mediterannean basin. Then, you continued to fight tirelessy in the Battle of the Ardennes and of the Rhineland.
You have been through painful events we can’t imagine. When you entered the Battle of the Ardennes, there were 752 men in your Unit. Only 110 remained alive after the battle. We will not forget this.
By your general attitude and courage during these difficult battles, Mr. Scango, undoubtedly, you are a liberator of my country and of Europe.
For your outstanding services, you received several decorations and citations from the U.S. Army including:
– the European African Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with 5 bronze stars,
– the American Theater Campaign Medal,
– the Good Conduct Medal,
– and the WWII Victory Medal.

Dear Mr. Scango, the role you played in the restoration of peace and freedom on our continent sets an example that we must keep in mind because you fought for the values that define our two nations: liberty and democracy.
One may remember that France fought on the side of the American revolutionary forces. General Rochambeau and General Lafayette joined their forces to those of General Washington in the decisive Battle of Yorktown in 1781. And this battle led, a few years later, to the Independence of the United States.
Thus France is United States oldest ally.
During WWI, more than four million men and women from the United States served in uniform alongside with French soldiers. Once again, our joint forces were successful, but the restored peace did not last: WWII broke out.
And to help us against the tyranny of Nazi rule, your generation, Mr. Scango, came to our shores to fight with courage, for the sake of freedom.
Today, this deep and enduring relationship between the United States and France is still founded on our shared democratic values, economic ties, defense and security cooperation.
Mr. Ernest Scango, we are honoring you with the Legion of Honor for your bravery, and to demonstrate our gratitude and infinite respect for your invaluable contribution to the Liberation of France.
Allow me to introduce you this recognition:

Founded in 1802 by Napoléon Bonaparte, the Legion of Honor is one of his most important creations, with the Napoleonic Code.
The Legion of Honor is the highest decoration of the French Republic, rewarding eminent military and civil merits in the service of France. It is attributed by decree of our President.
Twenty years ago, the President Jacques Chirac enacted that every living WWII veteran who fought on French soil was eligible for this distinction. The purpose was to recognize their bravery and their sacrifice. And today, we are honoring one of them. You, Mr. Ernest Scango.
« Au nom du Président de la République, nous vous remettons les insignes de Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur ».