7:30 a.m., Nov. 11)
Navan WWII veteran receives French Legion Medal of Honour
By Fred Sherwin
95 years of age, Navan WWII veteran Eric Smith thought
the accolades and commendations were all behind him. Little
did he know that he would be bestowed with one more commendation
for his service and heroism.
World War II veteran Eric Smith holds up the
French Legion Medal of Honour he recived during
a recent ceremony at the French Embassy. Fred
Wednesday night, Airman Smith received the French Legion
Medal of Honour along with five other Ottawa-area veterans.
a real honour to receive this. Very humbling," said
an interview with Smith and his wife Dinah on Thursday,
I asked them what the criteria was for the Medal of Honour.
Dinah quickly answered for her humble husband. "You
have to be a hero," she said.
flew 58 missions during the war, all of them in the European
Theatre and all of them as a pilot in a de Havilland Mosquito
-- a two-man, twin prop tactical bomber.
son of an infrantryman who had served in the trenches
during the First World War, Smith signed up with the RCAF
on July 13, 1941 after spending a year as a high school
was no damn way I was going to be in the war unless I
was in the air force. I had heard enough about living
and fighting in the mud from my father, says Smith
who very nearly didnt get his wish when it was discovered
that his legs were a half-inch shorter than the required
length to be a pilot.
were going to say no at first, but they let it go,
After spending the rest of the summer helping out on his
parents farm in Navan, Smith said his goodbyes on August
27, 1941 and hopped on a train to Toronto to begin his
was enventually assigned to a combat squadron on Dec.
was thrilled and confident at the same time, Smith
remembers. I wanted to be a combat pilot and I was
ready to do my part."
the war ended Smith remained with the RCAF as a flight
instructor, then in 1952 he accepted an invitation to
fly combat missions in the Korean War as an exchange pilot
with the United States Air Force at the age of 31.
would fly 30 missions in the skies above Korea.
Friday, he will be attending the Rememberance Day ceremony
at the Navan Cenotaph to honour his fallen comrades.
Fremch Legion Medal of Honour is France's highest honour.
It was created in 1802 by Napoleon Bonaparte. It is awarded
in recognition of outstanding achievements made in the
service of the French Republic in either a civilian or
story was made possible thanks to the generous support
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