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France says ‘merci’ to Heights veteran — 68 years after the fact • Brooklyn Paper

France says ‘merci’ to Heights veteran — 68 years after the fact

A little late: The French awarded Norman Wasserman a medal of honor for his service in World War II — only seven decades late!
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

Better late than never.

A well-meaning group of soldier-boosters from France awarded a Brooklyn Heights World War II veteran a prestigious medal of honor — 68 years after he fought to save their country.

Norman Wasserman, 87, received a coveted French Legion of Honor award last week for fighting Nazis in one of the war’s bloodiest battles, surviving sniper bullets, bombs, and land mines — not to mention a post-war career in public relations — before taking home the honor.

The medal symbolizes “France’s infinite gratitude and appreciation” for his bravery, according to the Consulat General De France.

“It feels wonderful — it’s was a very touching ceremony,” Wasserman said.

Wasserman helped Allied troops as a teenager during the notorious Battle of the Bulge by watching for the flash of gunfire and using hidden microphones to listen for the sound of enemy artillery.

The six-week offensive by German forces took place on a frozen chunk of ground in Luxembourg, France, and Belgium, resulting in nearly 90,000 American casualties.

War vet Ed Marinello, who served in Wasserman’s battalion, said the award is important despite its tardy arrival.

“It means a lot — he was a great soldier and we were really in the thick of it,” he said.

An official from Consulat General De France didn’t return calls seeking comment on Tuesday, but Wasserman said the medal’s timing is linked to the now-more-friendly relationship between the United States and France.

And Marinello — who is also in his eighties — said it’s good the French finally got around to it.

“They probably want to recognize us while we’re still around,” he said.

Reach reporter Natalie O'Neill at noneill@cnglocal.com or by calling her at (718) 260-4505.

Wasserman’s French Legion of Honor medal.
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

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