105-year-old Alabama WWII veteran receives France’s highest honor on birthday

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MADISON COUNTY, Alabama – In August 1944, Private First Class Lee Wooten landed at Utah Beach in France in the midst of World War II. Almost 8 decades later, he was awarded the highest order in this country, the French Legion of Honor.

Originally from Cullman, Alabama, Wooten now lives with his family in Madison. He celebrated his 105th birthday on Friday, a year after being released from hospital after beating COVID-19.

But nearly 80 years ago, Wooten was serving in the United States Army, as American troops landed in France to help the Allies defeat the Axis Powers. Wooten, a railway engineer for the army, was responsible for repairing tanks, trucks and hospital cars and bringing them back to the front lines. As Wooten told a US Air Corp pilot when asked what he did in France, he “cleaned up the mess you made flyboys.”

Today, 77 years after arriving in France to serve his country, Wooten is recognized as an international hero. On Friday, the Consul General of France in the American Southeast Vincent Hommeril presented Wooten with the Legion of Honor on behalf of French President Emmanuel Macron.

“Mr. Wooten, you are a true hero,” Hommeril said. “Your example inspires us for the future and your legacy provides a moral compass for generations to come.”

The French Legion of Honor is generally reserved for French citizens, but it is sometimes also awarded to foreign nationals who have served France or the ideals it defends.

But, it wasn’t just a medal, a ceremony. It was a birthday party. And no birthday party is complete without a birthday cake. Wooten was treated to a special gift, decorated with memorabilia from his time in the military as well as French and American flags.

The Flags of Honor organization unveiled a special flag in honor of Wooten’s service and the service of his brethren; one of them died in action.

The Nashville singer-songwriter also launched a song he and Major Wooten wrote together about Wooten’s time in the military.

News 19 would like to thank Private First Class Major Wooten and all members of our country’s military for their service.


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