On his birthday in Alabama, France recently recognized a 105-year-old American World War II veteran.
On Dec. 3, France awarded Major Wooten with the French Legion of Honor at a combination birthday party/medal ceremony. Fox News reported on the event.
The former Army man, known to his family as Pop Pop, continues to show his toughness. Last year, he recovered from COVID-19 in time for his 104th birthday.
France’s Highest Honor For Veteran
France sent a special guest to Wooten’s Madison, Alabama party. According to Fox 54, the night was full of veterans, birthday cake, honor, and song. Madison is a suburb of Huntsville near the US Space and Rocket Center.
Consul general Vincent Hommeril traveled from Atlanta and gave Wooten the medal from French President Emmanuel Macron. The consulate’s website reported on the event.
“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.
Drafted in 1943, the US Army assigned Private First Class Major Lee Wooten to France in 1944.
After his time in Le Mans, he went to Paris and worked at a railroad station. There, the man repaired bomb-damaged trains.
Granddaughter Holly McDonald said her grandfather felt his country needed him. She said he felt “called to do (his service)” and determined to serve his country.
Health Issues for Veteran
In 1946, he came home to Alabama and found a long career at US Steel in Birmingham.
Last November, Wooten recovered from COVID-19 and celebrated his 104th birthday. McDonald told the Associated Press that the veteran “is doing really well” and participated in this year’s Veterans Day activities.
Wooten, his daughter, and her sister recovered from COVID-19. Wooten and the sister had to spend time at the hospital.
At first, the virus went after the man’s physical strength and mental sharpness. McDonald said the family “saw an improvement after therapy.”
According to The Associated Press, Alabama football coach Nick Saban called Wooten after seeing his illness in the local news. Additionally, the veteran is a big Crimson Tide fan.
Sadly, the World War II veteran had another health scare before COVID-19. Wooten developed significant heart problems and had to go to the hospital. But he recovered from that incident as well.
McDonald and family members are “very, very proud” of Wooten. She said she feels “like the community feels like he’s there Pop Pop, and we embrace that and love that.”
McDonald told Fox 54 that after her father died in 2016, Wooten felt like he had a new mission in life to support the family.