STREATOR - Of all the World War II honors Joseph Panno has received, he never thought he would get one from another country.
The Streator native has received the Legion of Honor, France's top award, which was created by Napoleon.
"This is truly overcoming to tell you the truth about it. I never expected anything like this. I don't know if I can handle all this publicity," Panno said.
The honor means France is thanking Panno for his help in freeing it from German control during the second world war. Panno's service started when he was 22-years-old.
"I had tried to get into air corps and also the ship repair unit, but they were filled. And while I was trying, I got drafted into the army," he said.
Panno's battalion was sent into French towns where they fought off German soldiers.
"St. Lo was the big one. St. Lo was completely destroyed. And we lost as many men there as they did on D-Day," Panno said.
Panno was already awarded a Bronze Star, given to soldiers for acts of heroism.
"When you're 22 you're ready for almost anything," Panno said.
Now at the age of 92, Panno is reliving moments from decades ago.
"It brings back a lot of memories that I thought I had forgotten," Panno said.
Panno was one of 14 Illinois residents to get this award in 2012. A formal ceremony is set to take place at Streator City Hall, Wednesday March 20th, where Panno will officially receive his Legion of Honor Medal.
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