American WW2 Solider John Gojermac Receives French Legion of Honor

May 09, 2024
American WW2 Solider John Gojermac Receives French Legion of Honor
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Picture this: a sprightly 99-year-old veteran, standing tall and proud, his eyes gleaming with a mix of nostalgia and gratitude. This is John Gojermac, a man whose incredible journey has taken him from the battlefields of World War II to the hallowed halls of the Veterans of Foreign Wars post in Tonawanda, NY. And on one special day, October 20th, he found himself in the spotlight once again, receiving a prestigious award from an unexpected source - the French government.

Now, you might be wondering, what could possibly warrant such an honor, especially after all these years? Well, buckle up, because John Gojermac's story is one for the ages!

Born in Slovenia, young John and his family made the bold move to the United States when he was just a teenager. Little did he know that his adopted country would soon call upon him to serve in the fight against tyranny. At the tender age of 18, John found himself drafted into the U.S. Army, despite not yet being an American citizen. Talk about a baptism by fire!

Assigned to the 3rd Infantry Division, 7th Infantry Regiment, John was shipped off to North Africa as a replacement soldier. Meanwhile, his older brother also answered the call to duty, although his path took a slightly different turn. While John's brother initially served as a cook, he was later sent to Hawaii in preparation for combat in the Pacific. Fortunately for him, the war ended before he saw any action.

But John's story was just beginning. His journey through Africa and Europe reads like a Hollywood script, with battles fought, wounds sustained, and acts of bravery that would make even the most seasoned soldier stand in awe.

Take, for instance, his time in Anzio, Italy, where the fighting was so intense that it's a wonder anyone made it out alive. But John, ever the determined soldier, pushed on. When he found himself in France, he took on the crucial role of telephone line repairman, ensuring that communication lines remained open between units. It was a job that required nerves of steel and a willingness to put oneself in harm's way.

And that's exactly what John did. During one particularly harrowing battle, he repeatedly fixed a communications line, dodging bullets and shrapnel, all while managing to capture a German saboteur in the process! His bravery earned him a Silver Star, a testament to his unwavering dedication and courage under fire.

But war is a fickle beast, and John's luck eventually ran out. He was wounded three times during his service, with the final injury landing him in a French hospital, where he remained until Germany's surrender. It's a wonder he survived at all, a fact that John himself marvels at to this day.

Fast forward to the present, and we find John, now a retired tech corporal, with an impressive array of medals and citations to his name. The Bronze Star, Purple Heart, Combat Infantryman Badge, and Presidential Unit Citation all speak to his valor and sacrifice. But there was one more honor waiting in the wings, one that would come from an unexpected source.

Enter Jérémie Robert, France's consul general for New York, who presented John with the Knight of the Legion of Honor, the highest award France can bestow upon anyone, military or otherwise. It was a moment of profound emotion and gratitude, not just for John, but for all the men who never made it home.

As John himself put it, "I'm not accepting it for myself, but for the men that didn't make it." Those words, spoken with a mix of humility and reverence, encapsulate the very essence of what it means to be a true hero.

And so, nearly eight decades after his incredible journey began, John Gojermac stands as a shining example of the indomitable human spirit, a man whose bravery and sacrifice will never be forgotten. His story, now interwoven with the highest honor France can give, serves as a reminder to us all that true heroism knows no bounds and that the debt we owe to those who have served can never be fully repaid.

In the end, John Gojermac's tale is not just one of war and valor, but of the enduring power of recognition and gratitude. It's a story that reminds us to never forget the sacrifices made by those who came before us and to always honor their memory with the respect and reverence they so richly deserve.

So, here's to you, John Gojermac, a true American hero, and now, a Knight of the Legion of Honor. Your story will forever be etched in the annals of history, a shining beacon of bravery, sacrifice, and the unbreakable bonds of brotherhood forged in the crucible of war.

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