An World War II veteran from Oklahoma City was awarded France's highest honor Saturday for his service toward the liberation of France.
Retired Maj. Gen. Stanley F.H. Newman, a fighter pilot in the U.S. Army Air Corps during the war, was presented the Medal of Chevalier (Knight) of the French National Order of the Legion of Honor during a ceremony at the home of his daughter, Marsha Greiner.
Newman, 89, was presented the French decoration by Grant Moak, honorary French consul for Oklahoma.
Barbara Thompson, of Oklahoma City, former honorary French consul for Oklahoma and a recipient of the French Legion of Honor, read the citation during the ceremony.
Newman was a P-51 pilot and flew 57 combat missions in Europe during World War II, flying from air bases in France.
He flew air support for the French 1st Army in 1945 and also for the 7th U.S. Army. Newman and his unit also flew air support for Gen. George Patton's 3rd Army when it crossed the Rhine River from France into Germany.
When flying support for the French 1st Army, Newman and other pilots in his unit wore a shoulder patch bearing the emblem of the French Cross of Lorraine.
Established by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1802, the Legion of Honor is France's highest decoration. In the past few years the French government has been awarding it to America's World War II veterans who helped liberate France, Moak said.
Moak told Newman that his generation fought a war, not of conquest, but of liberation. Newman answered that he was really “overwhelmed” by this ceremony.
“I accept this honor on behalf of my friends I flew with. Most of them are gone,” he said.
He also accepted it on behalf of his wife, Harriette, and all of his family, Newman said.
He said his wife, who died in April 2011, is the one who raised their children.
“I only regret she's not here to share this. She's the one who deserves this,” he said.
Newman received congratulatory commendations and letters from Gov. Mary Fallin; U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Muskogee; state Sen. Cliff Branan, R-Oklahoma City; state Rep. Randy McDaniel, R-Edmond; and U.S. Rep. James Lankford, R-Oklahoma City.
On the last day of World War II, Newman forced two German planes down and shot down another, one of the last air victories of the war, Moak said.
A native of Chicago, Newman and his family moved to Oklahoma City in the late 1940s. He joined the Oklahoma Air National Guard's 185th Fighter Squadron, which then was based in Norman.
In 1951, the Oklahoma Air National Guard fighter unit was activated for the Korean War. Newman flew P-51s and F-80s in Korea. He flew 100 combat missions before returning to Oklahoma.
He later went to work full time for the Oklahoma Air National Guard.
During the Vietnam War, Newman flew the C-97 Stratocruiser and C-124 Globemaster on cargo missions into South Vietnam. He later flew the C-130 Hercules.
He rose in rank to brigadier general when he was appointed commander of the 137th Military Airlift Command in Oklahoma City.
Newman later was promoted to major general when he was assigned as special assistant to the commander-in-chief of the Military Airlift Command. He retired in 1983 after 41 years of service.
Newman's medals include the Air Force Distinguished Service Medal, the Legion of Merit Medal, two Distinguished Flying Crosses, the Meritorious Service Medal, and 14 Air Medals which represent combat aerial support.
I accept this honor on behalf of my friends I flew with. Most of them are gone.”
Retired Maj. Gen. Stanley F.H. Newman,