On June 14th, three World War II Veterans from New Jersey were awarded the Legion of Honor
On June 14th, three World War II Veterans from New Jersey were awarded the Legion of Honor for their contribution to the Liberation of France.
’’We are honoring them for their pledge & bravery & to demonstre France’s infinite gratitude’’. #DDay75
On June 14, to celebrate their service and their sacrifice during World War II in Europe, Consul General of France Anne-Claire Legendre bestowed the Legion of Honor the Legion of Honor, France’s highest French order of merit for military and civil merits, to Lester M. Bornstein, David L. Broadnax and Walter Jasterzebski, at JCC MetroWest.
At this occasion, the Consul General of France delivered this speech :
Lieutenant Colonel Samuel Morgan, the Picatinny Arsenal’s garrison commander,
Patrick Sheehan, on behalf of Representative Josh Gottheimer,
Dear JCC Staff and Community,
Dear families, dear Ambassador Oren,
Ladies and gentlemen,
As we are commemorating the 75th Anniversary of D-Day, it is a special honor to be here with you this morning, and to be able to pay tribute to 3 American veterans who fought in France during WWII, risking their lives to help liberate my country and the world from the terrors of Nazism.
Let me start by telling you a bit about the compelling stories of these three outstanding servicemen.
Mr. Walter JASTERZEBSKI, you were incorporated into the U.S. Navy when you were just 17 years old. From January of 1944 to March of 1946, you served the USS Ellyson which was outfitted during the Second World War to patrol the Atlantic, protecting and supporting Allied shipping and disrupting German naval strategies. With this squadron, you were involved in decisive naval missions across the Atlantic whose purpose was to break the naval blockade that the Nazis were trying to impose on the United Kingdom. You participated in the Normandy Invasion in June 1944, which brought hundreds of thousands of young Americans to the shores of Normandy. Thanks to this unprecedented operation, the allied forces prevailed over the German army to liberate France and turn the tide of the war. Mr. JASTERZEBSKI after your involvement in France you continued the war in the Pacific, with the Okinawa operation in Japan in 1945.
The naval expeditions that your squadron took part in were extremely risky and they took a heavy toll on its men. You carried them through with dignity and honor.
Mr JASTERZEBSKI, when you returned to the U.S., you married and started a family. You worked for Ford Motor Company and then Lever Brothers in Edgewater, N.J.. You now reside in Teaneck, N.J. where I am told you have lots of neighbors who gather by you on Sundays to enjoy your barbecues throughout the Spring, Summer and into the Fall.
Mr. David BROADNAX, in 1944 at age 17, you were drafted into the U.S. Army. You were assigned to the 646 Transportation Platoon and landed at Normandy Beach in August of 1944. The 646 Transportation Platoon was part of the Transportation Corps, a department of the US military Services of Supply. In terms of its role in the war effort, this department was responsible for the movement of more than 30 million soldiers within the continental United States; and 7 million soldiers plus 126 million tons of supplies overseas by truck, rail, air, and sea. The Transportation Corps played a critical role in the victory of the allied powers, because the speed and efficiency with which it moved soldiers and supplies left the enemy overwhelmed. As a Platoon Sergeant of 646 Transportation Platoon, you advised and supported the platoon’s commanding offer in leading the unit. You and the 80 other platoon members were involved in missions across Europe, including Cherbourg, Le Havre and Marseille in France, in cities that are close to my heart, as well as in Asia.
When you came back to the United States you became a physician and a cardiologist, and a citizen widely respected and loved by his community.
Mr. Lester BORNSTEIN, you were drafted into the U.S. Army in 1943 at age 18. You served the Company B 168th Engineer Combat Battalion during for two and a half years, from June of 1943 to January of 1945. This squadron performed a multitude of combat engineering duties in Normandy, in Ardennes, in Central Europe and the Rhineland. The Company B 168th Engineer Combat Battalion delayed and disrupted German offensives by impeding the movement of the enemy forces as they moved across mainland Europe. In addition, it constructed roads, bridges, trenches, field fortifications, bunkers, shelters, and water points, opened routes, and cleared landmines to protect the allied forces and make their mobility easier.
Mr. Bornstein, after your service in Europe you went on to fight in Japan when the Korean War broke out, where you were served as an executive officer in a newly established station hospital and retired from the army as a Major. When you returned home in 1953, you went to Yale University. You worked in the Hospital Administration field and retired as President from Newark Beth Israel Medical Center. You now reside in West Orange, New Jersey with your wife and are the proud father of Michael Oren, former US Ambassador to Israel, who we are lucky to have with us today.
Dear honored veterans,
Your stories are compelling examples of bravery and courage. The three of you were very young, 17 and 18 years old. Your generation showed the utmost strength of soul: you risked your life to save men and women that you had never met, and to liberate a soil that you had never set foot on. Your only compass was a cause you somehow felt to be more important than life itself: Liberty and democracy.
Your bravery, this willingness to sacrifice your lives to preserve the values of liberty and democracy, deserves our highest consideration and our deepest respect.
The French Republic and the French people will never forget, and solemnly thanks you for your exceptional service. To express my nation’s gratitude for this service, in a few moments I will bestow the French Republic’s highest honorary distinction, the insignia of Knight of the National Order of the Legion of Honor, upon you. The National Order of the Legion of Honor was created by Napoleon in 1802 to recognize men and women who have accomplished exceptional deeds for France and its people.
But before I do so, I would like us to take a moment to reflect on the important lessons that we can draw from the sacrifice and bravery that your generation, the greatest generation of the 20th Century, was willing to make.
It is essential that we not forget that we owe our right to live freely today to you, and the hundreds of thousands of men and women who didn’t make it back from the battlefields.
But we owe you more than that. We owe you to prove ourselves worthy of the great legacy of peace that you left us, the promise of Normandy.
by continuing to fight for democracy and liberty as you did in your time.
by reinforcing the international institutions that promote these values and allow us to resolve our differences peacefully
by continuing to enhance the longstanding alliance between France and the United States. This French American alliance born during the American revolution is deeply rooted in our countries’ shared love of liberty and democracy. France and the United States are never as great as when they fight for their values.
Vive la France. Vive la République. Vive l’amitié franco-américaine.
* * *
On behalf of the president of the French republic I will now bestow the insignia of the Legion of Honor upon these three brave servicemen. I will do it in French as the protocol requires.
Mr. Walter JASTERZEBSKI
Mr. David BROADNAX
Mr. Lester BORNSTEIN
« Au nom du Président de la République et en vertu des pouvoirs qui me sont conférés, je vous fais Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur. »
David L. Broadnax, 646 Transportation Platoon, was born in 1924 in Johnston, South Carolina. He currently resides in Paramus, New Jersey.
Walter Jasterzebski, USS Ellyson, was born on July 13, 1926 in the U.S.A. He was entered the U.S. Navy on January 14, 1944 at age 17.
Mr. Jasterzebski resides in Teaneck, New Jersey.
Lester M. Bornstein, Company B 168th Engineer Combat Battalion, was born on February 19th, 1925 in Boston, Massachusetts. He resides in West Orange, New Jersey with his wife
The friends and families of the veterans were also present. In addition there were district staff from Congressman Gotheimer’s office, Congresswoman Sherrill’s Office, and Congressman Pascrell’s office, who represent the congressional areas the veterans reside in. The congressional district staff offered the Legion of Honor recipients a certificate that thanked them for their service. Lieutenant Colonel Samuel Morgan, the Picatinny Arsenal’s garrison commander attended the event, as did Jason Kaneshiro, Public Affairs Officer at the Veterans Affairs Office of New Jersey. Last but not least, the JCC staff was kind and generous in offering its space, and hosted the ceremony with professionalism and grace. The Consulate General thanks everyone who as involved!
It was a moving and heat-warming experience!
For the Consulate General of France in New York : Paul Gadel
For JCC MetroWest : Arbell Noach