It TMs been over 60 years since Marcel Albert flew in World War II. But even with all that time passed, Albert was recognized for being a true hero. "It's really an important recognition of everything he has done," said French Ambassador to the United States, Major General Gratien Maire. Born in Paris in 1917, Albert served in three different Air Forces.
He began to fly in 1938 after being accepted for military pilot training. After getting his pilot's badge Albert was sent to Istres for advanced training. In 1939 he began flying fighters, including the French-built Bloch 152 and Morane-Saulnier 406, and the American-built Curtiss Hawk 75. In May of 1940 the Germans invaded France.
Albert, alone, shot down Dornier 17 bomber and later shot down a Messerchmitt Me 109. After the Vichy French government got into conflict with the Royal Air Force, Albert and two other pilots decided to fly to freedom. Albert was jailed after making it to England.
He was soon released and joined the RAF in which he flew 47 missions with. Albert was eventually promoted to Captain at the end of the war. He is one of the only foreigners to receive the USSR's highest award for valor, the gold star. In 1948 Albert moved with his wife to the United States and soon after got his citizenship. Albert is now a resident of the Valley and on Thursday received one of the highest honors, The Ordre De La Legion D'honnuer." There are only 75 grande crosses authorized under the order which was created by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1802. "This award is to pay tribute to the most important military civilian achievements for France," said the Ambassador. "Since then it has remained really the most important and highest ranking order of all our national distinctions."