Lubbock family accepts French Legion of Honor on behalf of father who served on D-Day

Family accepts French Legion of Honor Award

LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - Today is the 75th anniversary of D-day. Today in La Porte, 10 WWII veterans received the French Legion of Honor Award from French Consul General, Alexis Andres.

They received this award aboard the U.S.S. Texas Battleship, which was used 75 years ago on D-day.

One Lubbock woman was in attendance to receive the award, not for herself, but for her father, James D. Blair, who passed away last year. Her sister, Chantal Respondek, said the award would have meant a lot to their father.

“It would bless to him to know that even in this day and time that people still remember in that people care,” Respondek said. “And I think that's what meant a lot to him.”

James Dwyer Blair enlisted in 1940. He served in North Africa, Italy and France, including on D-day 75 years ago. He moved to Slaton and then Lubbock after the war, working in the appliance business.

Blair was awarded the French Legion of Honor, the highest honor given by the French government for veterans who contributed to the liberation of France in WWII.

“It is to show really that France will never forget their sacrifice and the sacrifice of those who are not here today,” Andres said.

Blair passed away in December 2018, so his family traveled to La Porte to receive the award on his behalf.

Respondek said if her father had been there today, he would have been thrilled to meet the other people in Texas who served on that day.

“You can thank them for what we have today because it’s just unbelievable how we’ve been blessed, and you don’t really think about it until something like D-day or Veterans Day or something like that comes up and then it’s really nice,” Respondek said.

“D-day exemplifies the huge sacrifice of U.S. troops in a land that for most of them was unknown and foreign, but they did this because of democracy and freedom and because the U.S. and France are the oldest allies,” Andres said.

Respondek said her father is deserving of this award because he was usually the one recognizing and serving others.

“For us, it was not uncommon to see him run to the house and gather up whatever he could to help somebody else,” Respondek said.

Blair has 11 children, 27 grandchildren, 45 great grandchildren and four great-great grandchildren who will carry on his legacy.

Blair met his wife during the war. She was a French nurse at the hospital in Marseille where Blair was stationed as a guard.

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