BUENA VISTA (WSLS 10) – More than 72 years after the end of World War II, Talmage Claytor is receiving recognition for his service.
“I served in all four campaigns in France when they were liberated. Normandy, Southern France, Northern France and the Ardennes which was the Battle of the Bulge,” said Talmage L. Claytor, Sr.
Now in his mid-90s, Claytor is receiving France’s Legion of Honor Medal, the county’s highest distinction.
The World War II veteran will be presented the medal by a representative from the French Embassy military in Washington, D.C. and Roanoke’s Bernard Marie, known for thanking American servicemen for liberating his country.
“It’s an honor to receive an award like this. It’s generous of the French to award it in the liberating of their country. And I understand my name is inscribed on the Wall of Honor in France and will remain there,” said Claytor.
Drafted at 20 years old along with four of his brothers, his job in the Air Force-Signal Corp was to support from behind the scenes.
“Operate the radio and radar and directing planes, spotting them enemy or friendly” said Claytor.
A memory book made by his children, he remembers some of the events in France before the end of the war.
“It was one of the largest flights of bombers I’ve ever seen heading supposedly to Berlin and they were on top of us and had the sky so black it was so many of them. It was something terrific to see although you know it was going to be a lot destroyed,” said Claytor.
Although not on the front battle lines, Claytor said at times it’s hard to talk about his experiences when he his thinks about his two brothers who died in service.
“They are buried side by side in France.”
Claytor says he will be thinking about his brothers, Eugene and Sherman when he gets his award in a private ceremony at the VFW in Lexington on Saturday.