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Utah veteran awarded French Legion of Honor for efforts during World War II

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Posted at 8:58 PM, Feb 13, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-13 23:31:28-05

SALT LAKE CITY - Seventy years after getting drafted into the U.S. Army, Salt Lake native Lyle Ralph Jackson received France's highest military award Saturday afternoon.

The Legion of Honor can be awarded to a soldier who fought in the three main campaigns of the liberation of France: Normandy, Provence/Southern France or Northern France.

"It's just mind-boggling," Jackson said about receiving the award. "They said this is the lowest form of royalty in the French government."

Jackson served in the 376th infantry regiment in the 94th combat infantry. Jackson's regiment would liberate seven towns and 13,000 prisoners of war. He also fought in the famous Battle of the Bulge.

"It's a great day for him, a great day for me, and a great day for France," said Mareiie-Helene Glon, with the Honorary Council of France.

Glon explains that France has been looking for recipients worthy of the award in recent years to repay them for the contributions on behalf of France during WWII.

"He doesn’t really look at himself as a hero," said Mark Jackson, Ralph's son. "But everyone of that generation doesn’t think so.”

Jackson prefers to think of his fellow serviceman, many of which have passed away and are no longer eligible to receive the award. Still, he gladly accepts on behalf of all of them.

"I thought somebody is twisting my arm," Jackson said about first hearing he'd receive the award. "I wouldn’t have dreamt this could be real."