France honors Natchez World War II veteran

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 29, 2009

NATCHEZ — For most of World War II Fielding Tucker, a Natchez native, fought in France.

Since then he has traveled back on multiple trips making friends of those he fought to liberate and constructing monuments to those with whom he fought.

And now France is paying him back.

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In April Tucker learned he had been awarded France’s highest award — the Legion of Honor medal.

Tucker was scheduled to be at the French Consulate in Atlanta in late August to receive the award, but his rapidly deteriorating health will prevent him from making the trip.

Ed Tucker, Tucker’s son, said his father recently learned he has advanced melanoma.

“He probably won’t make it to August,” Tucker said of his father.

But Tucker’s family did not want to see him go without having first received his award.

Since Tucker received the highest level of the award, Chevalier, equivalent to knight, another Chevalier must present the award.

So Tucker’s family petitioned the French Ambassador to the United States to have the award sent to Natchez.

The medal arrived late last week.

“When he got it he was utterly flabbergasted,” Tucker said of his father. “You could tell it meant a lot to him. This is not something that many Americans will ever get.”

The Legion of Honor was developed by Napoleon Bonaparte and is given for excellence in civil or military conduct.

“He was honored,” Tucker said of his father. “And we’re so proud of him.”

Tucker is also the recipient of the Silver Star and two Bronze Stars.

He fought in D-Day and the Battle of the Bulge.