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Dublin: 12 °C Thursday 18 July, 2019
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Irish D-Day veteran awarded France's highest military honour

Patrick Gillen, aged 89, dedicated his medal to all of his comrades that did not survive the Second World War.

Pat Gillen celebrates as he receives the (Legion d'Honneur) Legion of Honour from French Ambassador Jean-Pierre Thebault at Mercy Hospital in Cork.
Pat Gillen celebrates as he receives the (Legion d'Honneur) Legion of Honour from French Ambassador Jean-Pierre Thebault at Mercy Hospital in Cork.
Image: Niall Carson

IRISH D-DAY VETERAN Patrick Gillen was yesterday awarded France’s highest military honour, the Chevalier de la Legion d’Honneur.

Patrick Gillen, aged 89, dedicated his medal to all of his comrades that did not survive the Second World War.

Enlisting 

Gillen was just 18 years old when he enlisted and was part of an elite unit of French and US commandos who landed and fought on Sword beach.

The medal was presented to him by the French Ambassador to Ireland, Jean Pierre Thebault, at a ceremony in the Mercy Hospital in Cork.

Veteran receives Legion of Honour Normandy veteran Pat Gillen receives is flanked by his two sons Robin (Left) And Gerard (right) as he is presented with the Legion d'Honneur. Source: Niall Carson

He had hoped to travel to Normandy for the presentation, but ill health meant he could not do so.

Speaking to RTÉ, the veteran said that he was “humbled” by the award and never expected to get it at his age. He dedicated it to his comrades that lost their lives.

Veteran receives Legion of Honour Normandy veteran Pat Gillen celebrates with his children, L-R Mary, Robin, Gerard and Patrica as he recieves the the Legion d'Honneur. Source: Niall Carson

The French Ambassador said the award is about recognising the commitment and role of Gillen and what he did on D-Day, adding that he played a very important role.

Read: Family legends, ghosts, and nuns: The real Irish lives of WWI>

Read: The story of my great grandfather who died in WWI: Patrick Carroll, Gunner 100938> 

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