Colonel Hal Shook Receives French Legion of Honor at State Capital

Story and photos by Hal Goodtree.

Raleigh, NC – “France is what it is today – sovereign and free – because of the bravery of these men,” said Pascal Le Deunff, Consul General of France, to a crowd of about 200 at the State Capital in Raleigh today. 

French Legion of Honor

The occasion was a ceremony honoring ten United States veterans of World War II for their service in the liberation of France from Nazi Germany.

M. Le Deunff had traveled from his consulate in Atlanta to personally thank the veterans and pin the Legion of Honor medal on each man.

“You will be our heroes forever,” the Consul General of France told the American veterans.

The Legion of Honor is France’s highest award. Recipients received the rank of Chevalier or knight.

When We Were Young

Elaine Marshall, North Carolina Secretary of State, and Lt. Governor Walter Dalton gave opening remarks. Along with M. Le Deunff, they all spoke of events more than sixty years in the past.

The invasion of Normandy, the liberation of Paris, crossing the Rhine – the events described seemed like something out of a black and white newsreel.

But in the eyes of the old men in uniform dotting the room, you could see they remembered. They remembered running for cover on Utah beach. They remembered parachuting into St Mere Eglise behind enemy lines and sharing American cookies with French orphans on Christmas Day in 1944.

Col. Hal Shook

The veterans receiving the honor on Tuesday ranged in rank from Private to Colonel.

Colonel Hal Shook of Cary was the second in rank to receive his award. The Consul General recalled that Shook flew close air support for ground troops on D-Day in 1944. During the next year, as the Allies rolled up the Nazi empire, Shook flew 105 combat missions.

Colonel Shook continued his military career as a combat pilot in Korea and Vietnam. He was joined by his wife and family for the honor.

The Greatest Generation

Tom Brokaw called them “The Greatest Generation.”

Standing in the old State Capital on Tuesday, it was hard to disagree.


13 replies
  1. Stephanie
    Stephanie says:

    So proud to have such an amazing hero, role model, friend and Grandfather in my life. I have so many great memories growing up with you at Bryce, thanksgivings, Labor Day and visits…..I love you so very much!

    Little muddy face

  2. Gail ("Gailila")
    Gail ("Gailila") says:

    So thankful you are my husband’s father. We have known one another for a long time and being around you always brightens my day. You are a wonderful example for your sons and we wives benefit beyond probably what you realize. Thank you for being who you are:) Love, Gail

  3. Your Nephew, Phil
    Your Nephew, Phil says:

    Hi, Uncle Hal! Just ran across this while doing some genealogy research. Lucky for me.

    Congratulations, albeit after the fact.

    Thank you and all of the men and women that have placed themselves on the line for the United States.


  4. Rufus
    Rufus says:

    Hal, I met you when I was 34. I was in awed with your accomplishments. As you were aware my grandfather was also known as Hal Shook, out of GA. He just died this year. I wish he could have been there to see you accept this award, on behalf of his air command that he directed into the lead of the war. Thank you for your service. I will always cherish the book you signed for me in 2000…And to think you started out of Oregon.

  5. Bruce Knapp, Major, US Army (Retired)
    Bruce Knapp, Major, US Army (Retired) says:

    I salute you and your entire generation for your dedication and service!

  6. Gil Lowery
    Gil Lowery says:

    This was a most impressive ceremony honoring members of the truly “greatest generation” and I enjoyed meeting all ten honorees. We were the ones honored just to be there and meet those heroes.

  7. Glen Shook
    Glen Shook says:

    Super proud of you Uncle! My life is better because I have you in it. Much love to all!

  8. kit oldham
    kit oldham says:

    I have been searching for a dear friend Kathy Shook. Another friend sent me this link of your accommodation and thought you might be related. My father was stationed @ George AFB 68-70. I remember Kathy’s father was the division Commander, and she had a sister Shelly. If you are Kathy’s Dad i would love to get in touch with her. I was moved by the article of your service. Thank you for your time.

  9. Mike Wright
    Mike Wright says:

    The whole Wright clan back in California, especially his sister Marion (Meem) Wight, are so proud of our “Unk”. As my fathers best friend and fellow newpaper delivery partner in San Francisco, they shared their boyhood years together. Their exploits in the area and on the gridiron in the bay area were well known and their double dates led to two great families. God Bless and well done “Unk”….Your nephew, Mike

  10. Terri Shook
    Terri Shook says:

    You’ve been my hero since I was 12, the first time I met you. What a wonderful thing to have you as family for the last 12 years…Wish I could have been there to celebrate your honor with you. I love you. Terri

  11. Bob Liposchak
    Bob Liposchak says:

    I grew up in the 1950’s and these guys were my and my brothers heroes. I shake their hand, pat them on the back, and hug them when ever I can. They were heroes then and more so now. I had six uncles in WWII and I showed great respect fro them when ever I could. Most of the adults I knew were veterans. I miss not talking to them, so many of them are gone.

    God bless them all, each and every one.

  12. Frank and Judy Stancil
    Frank and Judy Stancil says:

    Thank you so much for your service to our county. We owe you lots

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