Army veteran Ed Barrow said he was just doing his job during World War II. But about 65 years after being discharged from the military, he is being recognized for his work on the battlefields in France. Barrow is one of a group of veterans who recently received Legion of Honor medals from the French government for their roles in the war.
Army veteran Ed Barrow said he was just doing his job during World War II.
But about 65 years after being discharged from the military, he is being recognized for his work on the battlefields in France.
Barrow is one of a group of veterans who recently received Legion of Honor medals from the French government for their roles in the war.
“I really didn’t do anything,” Barrow said. “I just did my job and did the best I could. I’m lucky I got through it.
“The French people were nice people. I believe they are realizing what we really did for them, what our sacrifice was.”
Barrow will be honored with the medal during a special ceremony at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 1 at the Belvidere Community Building.
Barrow is one of about 80 veterans from the Midwest to receive Legion of Honor medals, said Claire March, spokeswoman with the French Consulate in Chicago.
“The Legion of Honor is one of the highest distinctions that France gives to people who have done remarkable things for the country,” she said.
Barrow, 86, spent nine months in Ireland training before his company unloaded on Utah Beach as part of the D-Day invasion. He also fought in the Battle of Metz.
“Two-thirds of the company was gone when we got there,” Barrow said referring to Metz. “That was the worst we ever had.”
Barrow also recalled his close encounter with President Dwight Eisenhower and Gen. George Patton.
“We had a parade, and Eisenhower, Patton and a bunch of generals passed right in front of me,” Barrow said. “I could have stuck out my foot and tripped them.”
Barrow earned five Bronze Stars, a Good Conduct Medal, a Silver Star, a combat infantry badge and a WWII victory medal. His final rank was a technician fifth grade.
Barrow’s high school sweetheart and wife of 64 years, Georgiana, said her husband rarely talked about his time in the military until their great-granddaughter had questions for a school project.
And now he’ll share stories with anyone.
“He never talked about the war for a lifetime, never to me or anybody,” Georgiana said. “Then all of a sudden he started opening up.”
Barrow grew up in the Chicago suburbs, but has lived in Belvidere for the past seven years to be closer to his grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Barrow said it feels good to be recognized for what he did for his country, and he often gets gratitude for his service.
“One time we stopped at McDonald’s in Rockford for breakfast,” he said. “A young fellow came up to me and asked me if I was in World War II. I said ‘yeah.’ He then bought me breakfast and shook my hand.”
Matt Williams can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (815) 987-1389.