The Legion of Honor (Ordre national de la Légion d’honneur), is the highest decoration given by France and was established by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1802. This award distinguishes military and civil merits, and today recognizes the courageous American soldiers, and allies, who helped France fight against the barbarity of the Nazis and liberate it from its occupied status.
U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Leroy J. Manor has been presented a medal of knight of the Legion of Honor for his determination and participation in the air offensive over Europe, including the Liberation of Normandy.
“The patrolling was to prevent German aircraft from interfering with what we were doing on the ground. It just so happened that the German aircraft didn’t show up that morning, but I had a ring side seat to the greatest military operation in the world,”,” said Manor, as he recalled his part in the D-Day invasion of German occupied France.
Leroy Joseph Manor was born Feb. 21, 1921, and is a retired U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. who began his career as a P-47 fighter pilot in World War II, went on to serve in numerous command positions and fought in the Vietnam War. His awards include the European African Middle Eastern Campaign medal with 6 Stars, the WWII Victory Medal, and the Purple Heart.
“On one of my missions over France, I was hit when a German anti-aircraft artillery hit my aircraft, you might say my aircraft was destroyed, but it flew me back to England, where I received the Purple Heart because I was wounded.”
Manor is perhaps best known as the Joint Task Force commander responsible for the daring Son Tay prison compound raid in North Vietnam on Nov. 21, 1970. Though the raid wasn’t successful since prisoners had been moved, it impacted future treatment and morale of prisoners of war.
“Although we didn’t bring back any POWs because they had been moved, it sent a message to the 500 POWs who were held in the various camps that their country had not forgotten them, and that was very important for their morale.”
Manor also served on the investigate panel of the failed Iranian hostage prisoner rescue attempt, Eagle Claw, in 1980, whose findings and recommendations led to the forming of U.S. Special Operations Command.
“During World War II I didn’t know that much about special operations but as time went on there was a need for special operations,” Manor said. “Today special operations has developed into a point that it is one of our primary military options.”
In April 2014, Manor was inducted into the U.S. Special Operations Command Commando Hall of Honor for his contribution to the SOF community.