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WWII veteran receives French medal for his service

French Ambassador Philippe Etienne awarded Garland James with the French Legion of Honor medal for his service on the shores of France

GOLD CANYON, Ariz. — Every morning, 100-year-old Garland James loads up in his red pickup truck in Gold Canyon and drives himself to Apache Junction to have breakfast.

But this Tuesday morning was different. On this day the French Ambassador to the United States, Philippe Etienne, traveled to Gold Canyon to pay tribute to the World War II veteran.

“We are truly grateful for the way you faced your destiny and required incredible courage. The strong sense of duty and the sacrifice,” Etienne said at the special event held in James’ honor.

Etienne awarded James with the French Legion of Honor medal for his service on the shores of France during World War II.

Cpl. James served with the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division field hospital and even landed in Normandy on D-Day.

“I took care of the wounded,” said James. “I hauled my colonel around and the nurses. I liked them nurses.”

His job was transporting the wounded to the field hospitals located not too far from the front lines. He also transported the dead with his jeep or ambulance.

What really impressed him was seeing Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower near the front lines.

“Pretty good when the commander is right in there when the Germans are only pushed back three miles,” said James.

James served three years and says he’s proud of his service.

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Those Who Serve

12 News is honoring Arizona's veterans in an ongoing series called "Those Who Serve."