OLEAN, N.Y. (WKBW) — An Olean native, who served during World War II, is being recognized for his bravery and valor as he receives France’s highest award.
Charles “Charlie” Brown, 95, was part of a unit that went ashore at Utah Beach, as many brave young men stormed the beaches of Normandy in 1944.
The U.S. Army veteran remembers vividly how scared he was to enter Nazi-occupied France as part of the D-Day invasion force.
“I had my gun in front of me and I don’t think I slept very much the first night,” says Brown.
Private First Class Brown was deployed with the First Battalion, 258th Field Artillery Unit.
During an intense air attack by the Germans, Brown saw a close friend get killed and says he felt sorry for how the war was affecting the people of France.
France has never forgotten what American soldiers like Brown did to liberate their country from the Nazis.
During a special ceremony at the Olean Community Church, Brown was awarded the French Legion of Honor by France’s Honorary Consul stationed in Buffalo.
The 95-year-old also received citations from lawmakers and was joined by a large crowd of family, friends, veterans and members from the New York National Guard.
Brown says he accepts the award for all those who served in France, including those who never came home.