Two WWII Armenian-American Veterans awarded France’s highest military honor

On September 21, 2017, at his residence, Valéry Freland, Consul General of France in Boston, decorated four World War II American Veterans (two of them of Armenian descent) with the Legion of Honor, informs the Consulate General of France in Boston.

The ceremony took place in the presence of Congresswoman Niki Tsongas and Massachusetts Secretary of Veterans’ Affairs Francisco Urena.

The families and friends of Mr. Avak Avakian from Concord, MA, Mr. Richard Dinning from Natick, MA, Mr. Evarts Erickson from Weelfleet, MA and Mr. Charles Sahagian from Needham Heights, MA, all came to the Residence of France.

In a joyous atmosphere, the assembly honored these four heroes who contributed to the liberation of France in World War II.

All four of them were selected to be awarded the Legion of Honor for their bravery and heroism, and for their outstanding contribution to the liberation of France in World War II.

A native of Worcester, MA, Private Avak Avakian was inducted in the U.S. Army on May 24, 1943. He entered active service on June 7, 1943, in which he served for 18 months in the European Theater. Private Avakian worked as a Geodetic Computer in the 286th Field Artillery Battalion. Strong in math and physics, Private Avakian was responsible for calculating latitude, longitude and angles of sound track recorded from microphones in the field. He also computed the intersections, point locations and coordinates of enemy gun positions.

For his courage and intellect, Private Avakian was awarded the Good Conduct Medal, the American Theater Campaign Ribbon, the European African Middle Eastern Campaign Ribbon and the Victory Medal. Private Avakian was honorably discharged on March 1st, 1946.

A native of Dorchester, MA, Private Sahagian served as a rifleman for heavy weapons in the 3rd Battalion, 347th Regiment, 87th Division of the U.S. Army from January 25, 1944 to February 4, 1946.

While clearing German units in the Moselle region in France, General Patton gave instructions to Private Sahagian’s Battalion to recapture the city of Saint Hubert, Belgium. This 30-hour march from France to Belgium was recognized as one of the fastest and furthest movements of infantry in U.S. army records!

Honorably discharged in February, 1946, Private Sahagian received the Purple Heart, three Bronze Star Medals, the WWII Victory Medal and the American Campaign Medal.

Following his military service, Private Sahagian led an impressive career serving as a U.S. Representative to NATO specializing in military materials research. He then served as a U.S. Representative to NASA and a Supervisory Physicist for the U.S. Department of Defense.

Established in 1802 by Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte, the Legion of Honor is exclusively awarded in cases of exemplary military and civilian services. It is the oldest and highest honor in France. The Legion of Honor is awarded by decree of the President of the French Republic, Mr. Emmanuel Macron.

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