US medal for French WWII heroine - 60 years on

3rd May 2004, Comments 0 comments

GENEVA, April 30 (AFP) - A heroine of the French resistance in World War II was decorated Friday with the United States' highest civilian award, almost 60 years after illness prevented her answering the letter awarding it to her.

GENEVA, April 30 (AFP) - A heroine of the French resistance in World War II was decorated Friday with the United States' highest civilian award, almost 60 years after illness prevented her answering the letter awarding it to her.

Odette Peyrot-Bouchard, now a grandmother aged 80, helped her parents smuggle downed Allied airmen from the Paris region through Occupied France to Spain.

Her parents, Roger and Charlotte Bouchard were arrested by the Gestapo and killed while Odette was deported to the Ravensbruck concentration camp in Germany.

Liberated in April 1945 she was taken to Switzerland for treatment in a sanatorium but was too ill to answer a letter from the US authorities informing her that she had been awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

The file then gathered dust at the Pentagon in Washington but the efforts of a retired British colonel persuaded the US authorities to give Peyrot-Bouchard, who has lived in Geneva since 1949 and has dual French and Swiss nationality, her medal.

They had to strike new medals as stocks of those specially made for World War II heroes were exhausted.

Peyrot-Bouchard received her medal from the US ambassador to Switzerland Pamela Willeford at an emotional ceremony in Geneva, at which her parents were posthumously decorated with the same honour.

© AFP

                                           Subject: French news

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