SCHAUMBURG – A suburban Chicago World War II veteran who fought for the U.S. the Battle of the Bulge and on D-Day will become a knight of the French Legion of Honor later this month for his contribution to the liberation of France.
Jim Butz will receive the honor, which is considered France’s highest distinction, March 1 at the French consulate in Chicago, the Daily Herald reported. The Schaumburg resident will be honored for his role liberating France from Germany in 1944 and 1945.
The award cannot be given posthumously. U.S. veterans who fought in one of four French campaigns in World War II can receive the honor, which is bestowed annually to only 100 people.
“I have just had a marvelous life,” he said. “God has been so good to me. When I finish my life, I can’t complain.”
Butz has had leukemia for the past nine years and is battling macular degeneration. Butz enlisted in the Army in 1943 and in January 1944 he was deployed to Europe. He earned two Bronze Stars during the war.
“I grew up in a hurry in the Army,” he said. “I felt so proud. There was such a patriotic spirit.”
Butz described the long, difficult Battle of the Bulge as, “the worst battle, the worst time of my life.”
He said his children and several friends will be there at the official ceremony.
“It’s a very great honor to have a foreign country do this,” he said.