WWII veteran celebrates 105th birthday with French Legion of Honor

    World War II veteran who recovered from COVID-19 last year was honored with France’s highest decoration on his 105th birthday. 

    Major Wooten, who served in France during World War II, received the French Legion of Honor at a combination medal ceremony and birthday party in Huntsville, Alabama, on Dec. 3. 

    Vincent Hommeril, the consul general for France in Atlanta, decorated Wooten with the medal on behalf of French President Emmanuel Macron, according to the consulate website

    “The Legion of Honor is bestowed upon French citizens as well as foreign nationals who have served France or the ideals it upholds, including individuals who have contributed to the country professionally, as well as veterans such as the Americans who risked their lives during World War II fighting on French soil,” the consulate announcement said.

    According to The Associated Press, Wooten was drafted in 1943 and arrived in France in 1944. He served as an Army private in Le Mans before he was sent to Paris to work at a railroad station, where he repaired bomb-damaged trains.

    He returned to the U.S. in 1946 and worked for U.S. Steel in Birmingham after he left the Army. 

    Wooten served as an Army private in Le Mans, France before he was sent to Paris to work at a railroad station, where he repaired bomb-damaged trains.
    Consulate of France in Atlanta
    Wooten is honored at a ceremony.
    One year earlier, Wooten tested positive for COVID-19, but recovered in time for his 104th birthday.
    Consulate of France in Atlanta
    Wooten enjoys his Thanksgiving dinner with family.
    Wooten enjoys his Thanksgiving dinner with family in Madison, Ala., on Thursday, Nov. 25, 2021, one week before he was presented with the French Legion of Honor during his 105th birthday party on Friday, Dec. 3, 2021.
    Holly McDonald via AP

    Last year, in November 2020, Wooten tested positive for COVID-19, but recovered in time for his 104th birthday, which he was able to celebrate at home, according to AP. 

    His granddaughter, Holly McDonald, told AP that Wooten “is doing really well” and was able to participate in Veterans Day activities. 

    Wooten’s physical strength has recovered since contracting COVID-19 and some mental fuzziness that appeared at the time has faded away, McDonald told AP. 

    “We really saw an improvement after therapy,” she said.

    The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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