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World War II Veteran Receives French Legion of Honor

Updated: Tuesday, November 26 2013, 09:51 PM EST
WEST PRICE HILL, Ohio (Jeff Hirsh) -- A man was honored Monday by a country grateful for what he did.

The country is France and what Robert Zwick did was help free that country from the Nazis during World War II.  Local 12 News reporter Jeff Hirsh was in West Price Hill, where Zwick grew up, for the ceremony.

At St. William Church Monday morning, the first sounds were footsteps of the color guard; footsteps, and then La Marseillaise, the French national anthem.

All to honor 88-year-old Robert Zwick, a Price Hill native, member of St. William parish, and veteran of World War II.

Zwick was presented with the French Legion of Honor medal, from the French government, in appreciation for Zwick's role in the liberation of France.

He said, The first words I want to say is this, this is a fantastic honor for me to be here this morning.

Robert Zwick joined the army in 1943 as soon as he finished high school. 

I just couldn't wait to get in. I tried to join the army or Marine Corps when I was 17 and my dad said no way. You finish high school. It was the best advice he ever gave me.

Zwick was a member of the famed Rainbow Division which swept through France and into Germany. He was in the Battle of the Bulge and entered Nuremberg, scene of many Nazi rallies, which the German army had fled.

And I thought well Adolf, you finally got yours today.

But the horrors of war were always present. Zwick was with the first American unit to liberate the Dachau concentration camp.

There were corpses still in the railroad cars and freight cars and I felt sad, I felt terrible.  Then I realized what we were fighting for. It had to be done. I didn't want to be doing it. Those were my deepest feelings."

There were five other world war two veterans present to watch the ceremony, there were also members of the parish. But most of the people, more than 200, were students at St. William School, and the chance to have a World War II veteran talking to them brought history to life.

Zwick said, In closing I wish to address the students of St. William. Freedom is not free. It never was free and never will be free...  I believe that history teaches a lesson.  And God only knows if we don't learn from history we're going to repeat the sad parts of history, which is a lot of destruction and death.

After the war, Zwick returned to Cincinnati, went to college, and became a high school history teacher.

Video HEREWorld War II Veteran Receives French Legion of Honor

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