A Buffalo-area native and World War II veteran has received numerous decorations from two nations for his participation in the liberation of France.
Howard Tobin, now in his 90s, was a member of the Twentieth Corps (XX Corps), part of General George Patton's Third Army, which participated in numerous battles that led to the liberation of many French towns previously occupied by Nazi German forces.
He was honored for his participation in the European Theater of World War II in a special ceremony hosted Monday morning in Cheektowaga Town Hall.
Congressman Brian Higgins presented Tobin with numerous military honors: the Honorable Service Lapel Button, Good Conduct Medal, World War II Victory Medal, American Campaign Medal, European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal and the Silver Service Star.
"There is no greater honor than to recognize the service of our veterans," Higgins said. "Today, Corporal Tobin's actions are recognized by not one but two grateful nations."
After Higgins presented Tobin with his U.S. military honors, French Honorary Consul Pascal Soares presented him with the highest decoration bestowed on participants of his nation's liberation, the French Legion of Honor medal.
Soares said his parents are among the many freed by the bravery of Tobin and countless others. He called the Cheektowaga man "my hero and my liberator."
"I would like to pay a special tribute to you, sir," Soares said. "To all American veterans who liberated France and Europe, we French will never forget what those men did, what you did, to restore our freedom."
Tobin, whose family was present, teared up as he thanked all who came to honor him. He did not speak during the formal ceremony but later shared his thoughts with reporters.
"A great honor to receive these, the medal from the French government," he said. "I'm glad I'm still alive to receive it."
Tobin said that the medals remind him of the many months spent in Europe during the war, but added that they were also a sad reminder of the many comrades who did not come home.