In a special ceremony in the Kentucky capital on Monday, 100 year old WWII veteran Lt Col William Pollard (ret) was awarded the French Legion of Honor.
“You owe so much to America’s greatest generation. The American people changed everything … Without this gentleman, my flag would not be flying. It’s as simple as that.” Guillaume Lacroix, Consul General of France
Pollard was among the first to arrive at Omaha Beach in 1944, according to the Military Times. He was tasked with deploying concrete caissons to form a temporary harbor from which US forces could rapidly load cargo.
Known as code name “Mulberry -” A for Americans and B for British, the plan was to float the concrete caissons and position them at both the American beaches and the British beaches. The idea for the harbors came from Britain.
The warfare history network noted:
The objective of the Mulberry harbors was to disembark 3,000 tons of stores a day by D-Day + 4; 7,000 tons of stores and 2,500 vehicles daily by D-Day + 8, and finally 12,000 tons of stores and 2,500 unwaterproofed vehicles a day. Men, vehicles, equipment, and supplies rolled through the two harbors, and within the first two weeks after D-Day, 20 fighting divisions and more than a million men were ashore.
From June 15 to 18, a total of 15,774 British and 18,938 U.S. troops were landed every day, along with an average of 2,000 vehicles and 25,000 tons of stores. The enemy defenders on the Normandy shore were outnumbered locally, but they were still formidable and put up stiff resistance in front of the Allied armies. Reinforcing these men was crucial, but the weather was about to throw a wrench in the works. Channel storms had delayed the invasion by a day, and they were to play havoc again with Allied operations.
Lt Col William Pollard told his son William Jr that he had to rescue 14 soldiers from a concrete caisson when it was hit with enemy fire. He coaxed some of the men who were frozen with fear at the prospect of jumping in the 40 foot deep water. He, along with a Sergeant, were instrumental in the effort.
Pollard went on to advance into Europe with General Patton.
The French Legion of Honor is only given at the request of the elected French President.
The Military Times reported,
Pollard was born and raised in Lockport, Kentucky, a small town along the banks of the Kentucky River. He had an extensive military career, which also included running an orphanage in Korea near the end of the Korean War. Pollard Jr. said his father never spoke much about his war experience until 1994, during a trip to France to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Normandy invasion.
William Pollard Jr read a statement from his father that said he was honored to received the award. He stated his thoughts were with his late wife and the soldiers he served with long ago.
Featured photo via State of Kentucky