Utahn who served during WWII returns to France, is honored by town he helped liberate

Posted at 10:20 PM, May 10, 2015
and last updated 2015-05-11 00:30:06-04

SALT LAKE CITY -- Many who serve overseas dream about returning to the countries they fought in to retrace their steps, and one WWII veteran from Utah recently made that dream a reality.

Robert Ord was welcomed home this week by family members at the airport after he returned from a trip to France. The last time Ord visited France was as United States soldier during the liberation in 1944.

Ord said he always wanted to go back and retrace his steps, and he decided it was now or never since he's about to turn 90.

"I went to places where I suffered the worst things imaginable and fought for my country under the worst conditions imaginable,” he said.

Ord said part of his motivation for the trip was to honor those who fought but did not come home.

"First day we were in combat, my best friend Patrick Robinson was killed; I was by his side when he was killed,” he said.

Ord learned his friend was buried at the Epinal American Cemetery and Memorial in France.

"And I've always wanted to go see his grave and retrace the steps I took,” he said.

Ord and his sons were at the gravesite when a woman nearby found out he was an American soldier, and the regiment he was in had freed her hometown from occupation.

“She came over and arms outstretched, and greeted me, and hugged me, and thanked me, and then arranged for us to go to the city hall to meet the mayor,” Ord said.

The mayor presented Ord with an honorary medal.

"He indicated that in his mind, I deserved this medal just as much as anybody else that had been there,” Ord said.

But for Ord, the most rewarding parts of his trip were meeting people who were so interested in his history, and visiting his friend's grave. In addition to the medal given to him by the mayor he met in France, Robert was awarded The Bronze Star from the U.S. Government for his bravery during the war.