PLANO – A longtime resident of Kendall County and a World War II veteran received France’s highest military and civilian merit award this week for his involvement in liberating France from the Nazis in the war.
About 100 family members, friends and community members came to see Plano native and Sandwich resident Enoch “Nick” Scull Jr. be awarded the French Legion of Honor award by Guillaume Lacroix, the consul general of France to the Midwest, on Thursday at the Plano American Legion post, 510 E. Dearborn St.
Scull, 95, deferred all comment to his son Jeff, but he prepared a statement that Jeff read aloud during the ceremony. Scull said in the statement the French people were sharing and grateful everywhere American soldiers such as him went in their efforts to liberate France, and that he appreciates receiving such a great honor from the French government.
“I just wish I could share it with my fellow soldiers who fought and sacrificed along with me,” Scull said in the statement. “In my heart, I always will.”
Nick Scull, who also received two Purple Heart medals, served in the U.S. Army with the 28th Infantry Division’s combat engineers and landed in Normandy in 1944. He fought in and was captured during the Battle of the Bulge, which was the largest battle fought on the Western Front in Europe during World War II, and was recognized for his military service last summer at Wrigley Field in Chicago.
Patricia Scull, Nick Scull’s wife of more than 50 years, said her husband is a private person by nature and didn’t really want to be the center of attention. She said he never really talked about his time in the service until recently, when his eldest child started to document his war stories.
“I just think that it’s wonderful that he got this award,” Patricia Scull said. “I think he deserved it, very definitely.”
Jeff Scull, Nick Scull’s oldest son, said one interesting story his father told him was when he was in France to help liberate Paris. He said a couple of children saw his father and, when they realized he was an American, people started to come out of their homes and cheer. He said some even invited his father into their homes to share wine that was hidden from the Nazis.
“I’m very proud of my dad,” Jeff Scull said. “He’s told me quite a few stories, and I wrote them down to share with the family.”
Nick Scull also spent time in a German prisoner of war camp. Jeff Scull said his father is “really reluctant” to talk about what happened to him during that time, including how he lost 40 pounds and his feet were frostbitten while he was in the camp.
Kaelyn Scull, Nick Scull’s youngest granddaughter, said she heard a lot of about her grandfather’s experiences in the war, mostly through her father, Jeff.
“My grandfather was always very humble, so I never really heard it from him,” Kaelyn Scull said. “We would always sit and watch the Cubs game or do different things like that, or go out to his garden, but he was never one to really brag about that ever.”
Kaelyn Scull said one connection to her grandfather’s war experiences that she remembers came from her playing violin while growing up. She said a song she played one time was a German song, and she learned that song was one her grandfather remembered hearing it while he was at the prisoner of war camp.
Not only was she grateful that she could see her grandfather receive the once-in-a-lifetime honor, Kaelyn Scull said, but she was grateful her cousin’s younger children also were able to be there.
“I just think that it’s important [to witness this] because time doesn’t stand still,” Kaelyn Scull said.
Nick Scull also played one season of minor league baseball as a first baseman with the Tampa Bay Smokers of the Florida Atlantic League after returning from the war. His brief baseball career ended after his father-in-law became ill; he moved back home to help with the family farm and because of bad knees from wear and tear during the war.
From there, Nick Scull operated Nick’s Barber Shop in Plano for years and was a foreman at Plano Metal Specialties Inc., where he worked until he retired.
On behalf of the French Republic, Lacroix said, he was honored to be in Plano to thank Nick Scull for his service during the war. Although, he joked, he still was wondering whether he was in Plano or Smallville, the fictional setting of “Superman.”
“Some would say that Superman is a fictitious character,” Lacroix said. “I don’t think he’s fictitious. He’s here.”
Plano Mayor Bob Hausler and Sandwich Mayor Rich Robinson also issued proclamations recognizing Nick Scull’s military service during the ceremony. Robinson was not available for additional comment after the event.
After the ceremony, Hausler echoed Lacroix’s comments and said Nick Scull really is a true hero. While it was a small gesture on his part to be at the event, he said, he was truly honored to be in the presence of veterans like Nick Scull.
“I feel that we should honor all of the veterans and their families in any way we can,” Hausler said.