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Ag Awarded France's Highest Distinction

Stephanie Cannon '06 March 3, 2015 10:53 AM updated: July 29, 2017 1:34 PM

More news from Col. Tom C. "Ike" Morris '33, a great Texas Aggie.

Last night, Morris was presented the French Legion of Honor for his service in World War II as a member of the 2nd Infantry Division. The Legion of Honor is France's highest distinction and was created to honor extraordinary contributions to the country.

Morris was formally presented the award by Sujiro Seam, this French Consul General, at the Socoma Recreation Center in San Antonio. In presenting the award, Seam spoke of the long-standing alliance between France and the United States, which dates back to the Revolutionary War. The special ceremony, he said, was to celebrate the friendship of the two nations and to honor an American hero. 

“This is not a battle of the past. What these men did 70 years ago was in support of a peaceful future for the young generations and to make sure the values we share between France and the United States of America – freedom and democracy- are
defended forever,” Seam said. 

After presenting the medal, he led the group in a toast to Morris, with French champagne. 

Among the approximate 30 people in attendance, including representatives of the U.S. Army Second Division and The Association of Former Students, was Buck Sloane, who served as a soldier under Morris. He and his wife, Shirley, drove from Houston to honor Morris. "He was my colonel. I wouldn't miss this for the world," he said.

Morris served in all campaigns in the ETO, including D-Day plus 1 on Omaha Beach and the Battle of the Bulge.

During World War II, the 2nd Infantry Division, in which Morris served as a Colonel, came ashore Omaha Beach in France on June 7, 1944, D-Day plus 1. It liberated the first of many cities, Trevieres, two days later.  The Division battled its way through the hedgerows of Normandy in very tough fighting, and attacked east across France.  On Dec. 11, 1944, the Division was ordered to attack and seize the Roer River dams. Having pierced the dreaded Siegfried Line, the Division was advancing when Nazi Field Marshal Gerd Von Rundstedt unleashed a powerful German offensive in the Ardennes. Throughout the Battle of the Bulge, the 2nd Infantry Division along with the 101st Airborne Division and others held fast, and prevented the enemy from seizing key roads leading to the cities of Liege and Antwerp. The Division resumed the offensive on Feb. 6, 1945, to join the race to annihilate the fleeing Wehrmacht.

French Legion of Honor was created in 1802 and is the oldest decoration in France.  It may be bestowed upon both French citizens and non-citizens who have provided service to France and have defended the values of freedom and democracy.

Another Aggie, Ross Novelli Sr. '40 was awarded the distinction in January. Novelli was an Army lieutenant fighting on D-Day plus one with the 915th Field Artillery Battalion of the 90th Infantry Division. During a ceremony in Galveston in January, Counsel General of France Sujiro Seam awarded Novelli with the French Legion of Honour for his service to liberate France. Read more at tx.ag/RNovelli.



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