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Tsawwassen WWII vet awarded for helping restore freedom to France

89-year-old Lock Laurie made a Knight of the French National Order of the Legion of Honour, the country's highest decoration

Tsawwassen Second World War veteran Lock Laurie, 89, was presented with a medal marking France's highest decoration last Friday.

Awarded the rank of Knight of the French National Order of the Legion of Honour, Laurie received the medal from Vancouver's French Consul General Jean-Christophe Fleury in a ceremony at Delta Hospital. It recognizes Laurie's efforts to help restore freedom to France.

Laurie said the consul general and the French people in general went out of their way to recognize him.

"That's the big word in all of this. The medal is something, but being recognized is what everybody's looking for."

Laurie served as a radio operator in the VIII RECCE, a reconnaissance brigade. He said he joined the army at 16 and went over to France at 18.

"The life experience, a lot of it is still with me, what I learned. I grew up in a hurry. Some would say in a hurry and not too well but I think I'm doing better with it," he said. "For the war experience itself, if I had my life to live over again, I wouldn't take that part out."

Laurie landed at Juno Beach with his group about a month after D-Day and served in the Normandy campaign.

After serving in the army during the war, Laurie went on to have a 25-year career in the Canadian Navy.

During the medal presentation, attended by Laurie's family, Fleury explained the Legion of Honour is the highest decoration France can bestow and is equivalent to the Order of Canada.

"Thank you for what you did. Thank you for making my land a free country. Thank you for allowing me to have a happy, living family," he told Laurie.

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