2 Hoosier veterans receive high honor from France

(WTHR Photo)

INDIANAPOLIS (WTHR) – At the Indiana War Memorial Sunday, there were high honors for two Hoosier heroes who helped secure freedom for France during World War II.

"We owe these two gentlemen such an amount of gratitude and the debt we owe them we will never be able to repay ten-fold," Consul General Gillaume Lacroix said.

In the ceremony, Dan Mattingly of Tipton and Marvin Sabatino of Columbus each received the Legion of Honor France's highest distinction. The medals reward exceptional deeds for the French people.

In their case, bravery in the face of danger, storming the beaches of Normandy in the very first wave on June 6th, 1944.

"In serving America during World War II, these two heroes saved my country," Lacroix said.

Like many veterans, these men say medals should really go to the band of brothers who never made it home.

"You're not coming just to see us," Sabatino said. "You're coming to see the whole army of 18 million people who are still not with us now."

"Always the trouble with war, the ones that deserve the glory and the praise get nothing and the ones that didn't do that much are up on the stage being interviewed," Mattingly said.

It's been 75 years since they served. They were fresh out of high school, risking everything for liberty.

Both men are now in their 90s.

"Boy, I remember when I was a hot shot and now I'm just another old guy," Mattingly said. "I used to be 'Dan the Man' now I'm pop."

Those humble members of the greatest generation are now celebrated by two grateful nations.