HAMPTON, Va. (WAVY) — A Hampton veteran received a major honor from the French government — 70 years after D-day, they knighted 89-year-old Lee Boone.
WAVY.com caught up with the Langley retiree to talk to him about his service and how it feels to be recognized by people so far away, so long after rushing in to help. He knows a thing or two about service and sacrifice, and now appreciation too.
“Seventy years,” Boone said. “It’s a long time coming. When I received the award in Roanoke, they gave me the microphone and asked me to say something, and I said ‘thank you very much.’ I think it was the shortest speech anyone ever gave.”
Boone was among the many soldiers of the 35th Division Headquarters Company on D-day who stormed Normandy and liberated France. He still has plenty of mementos from war at home to go along with the stories of times he remembers so well.
“I was drafted in 1943,” he told WAVY.com. “I got on a liberty ship on my 19th birthday and it took 15 days to get from Massachusetts to England.”
Now an honor few will ever know: the government of France has inducted him into the legion of honor, making him a knight.
“I don’t really know what a knight is supposed to do,” Boone said. “Never been a knight before. Of all the medals I have, I think that’s the prettiest one. It means that the French government appreciated what we did for them.”
Senator Mark Warner has followed up with a letter to let Lee know just how special he really is.
Mr. Boone stayed in Europe until the end of World War II. He later served at Fort Eustis, Fort Monroe and retired at Langley Air Force Base in 1969. He’s living history right here in Hampton Roads. And for his life of selfless service may he receive many more ‘Thanks’ from here and abroad.