French award medal to WWII veteran
Story by W.C. Madden
U.S. Army veteran Thomas Goffe first heard about the French government giving out a medal to veterans who were in France during World War II while he was on board Madam Carroll in July 2019, so he ended up contacting them about the medal. Goffe was a parachute rigger who ended up in France in support of the airborne troops. His most harrowing experience in the war was loading five-gallon gas cans, putting them in a C-47 troop carrier, and taking them to the front in support of the Battle of the Bulge. That was the closest he ever got to the front lines.
In March 2020, Goffe mailed the request to be awarded the French Legion of Honor to the Consulate General of France in Chicago. Later that month, the pandemic hit the United States and his request was put on hold until things got better.
Finally in October 2020, he received a letter from the Consul General in Chicago informing him that President Emmanuel Macron of France had decided to award him the medal of Knight of the Legion of Merit. However, the pandemic was still ongoing, so the ceremony would be delayed for a while longer.
While waiting for word from the consulate on the date of the award, Tom’s daughter, Debbie Seaver, asked me if I would set up the medal ceremony at The American Legion. I was surprised that she asked me. I’m a past commander of the post like his own son, Dave. He could have asked him or the present commander, Tom Mowrer, but he chose me for some reason. I was honored and agreed to do it.
Finally, on June 5, 2021, Tom received notification that the Consul General was coming to Monticello on June 18 to award the medal. I had two weeks to get everything arranged for the presentation.
I asked Monticello Veterans Honor Guard commander Tom Mohler if he would have two of his members present the colors and he agreed. Plus, he invited everyone else from the Honor Guard to attend. Tom had been an active member of the Honor Guard for more than 20 years but had to give up participating in 2019 when he hurt his back. However, he’s now considered a lifetime member.
I also invited the local newspapers, WMRS radio and the Lafayette and Indianapolis television stations. I asked Terry Hudson, a.k.a. DJ Huddy, and he agreed to take off from work and do the sound system free of charge. As a son of the Legion, he was honored to be part of the ceremony.