SAN ANTONIO, Texas -- Long-time San Antonio resident and United States Army Air Corps World War II veteran Roland Dullnig was presented the French Legion of Honor medal here in a ceremony which included family and friends Feb. 8, 2020.
The French Legion of Honor is a prestigious medal and has been recently awarded by the people of France to American Veterans who fought for the liberation of France during World War II.
“Mr. Dullnig represents the ‘Greatest Generation,’ a generation that also set the foundation for today’s United States Air Force with its roots in its historic predecessor, the Army Air Corps,” said Brig. Gen. Jim Sears, Jr., Air Education and Training Command director of plans, programs and requirements.
Dullnig served from June 1, 1942 until his discharge as a technical sergeant from the service in January 1946, in the 668th Bombardment Squadron of the 416th Bombardment Group as a crew chief maintaining A-20 Havoc and A-26 Invaders light bomber aircraft in France.
Sears also noted it was special to honor both a WWII veteran and his service, as well as his unit’s service to the country, to democracy and to our Allied partners.
“The 416th Bombardment Group’s contributions to today’s 21st century U.S. Air Force have evolved and come a long way since 1945,” Sears said.
The Consul General of France in Houston, Alexis Andres, awarded Dullnig the medal on behalf of French President Emmanuel Macron. Andres highlighted this year marks the 75th anniversary since the end of WWII and noted that the partnership between France and America was forged back during the American Revolution more than 230 years ago. He stressed that the Franco-American partnership has been renewed time and again through history into present day bi-lateral, multi-lateral and other Allied operations.
Dullnig received the French Legion of Honor award with a surprised “Wow, how about that?!” He said he recalled serving long hours during the on-going war efforts and how WWII marked his “first trip to France,” although it proved not to be his last. Dullnig remembers while serving in France with his unit, he was always with the aircraft, always working.
During the ceremony, Consul General of France Andres also emphasized the number of WWII veterans in Texas.
“Texas has a long tradition of fighting for freedom and standing against tyranny,” Andres said while noting Texas paid a heavy toll during WWII as over 750,000 Texans served during the war, and 20,000 who never returned home. Over 1.5 million troops were trained in Texas before being sent to war.
The 416th Bombardment Group was a Douglas A-20 Havoc light bomb group assigned to Ninth Air Force in Western Europe. The 416th BG participated in the battles and campaigns of Normandy, Northern France, Ardennes, Rhineland, Central Europe and Air Offensive Europe. The group flew a number of missions against airfields and coastal defense in preparation for the Normandy invasion. It struck road junctions, marshalling yard, bridges and railway overpasses. In spite of intense resistance, the group bombed railways, rolling stock and a radar station to disrupt the German retreat. It later converted to Douglas A-26 Invaders while engaged in combat and continued to support ground forces until the end of the war.