Mr. Alfred S. HARVEY was awarded the French Légion d’Honneur
Founded by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1802, the National Order of the Legion of Honor is the highest honor in France. It recognizes eminent service to the French Republic. Recipients of this honor are named by decree signed by the President of the Republic. Alfred Harvey, by his exceptional conduct during the War, is typically the kind of modest heroes who deserve such an honor. Indeed, the people of France have never forgotten and will never forget what we owe to our American and Allied liberators whom so many died on the battlefields. More than ever, the youngest generations have to remember what their elders have done for the freedom and the peace of the world.
As President Sarkozy declared last year on the beaches of Normandy: "I want to say thank you to the last survivors of this tragedy and, through them, to all those who shed their blood on the French soil and rest there for eternity".
Jacques de Noray, Deputy Consul of France in San Francisco, recalled some major facts of Mr. Alfred Harvey’s life before confering the ’Knight of the Legion of Honor’ award upon him :
Alfred S. Harvey was born and raised in the state of Wisconsin. In November of 1942, while studying mining engineering, he volunteered to join the Army rather than use his student deferment. Almost rejected due to his eyesight, he was able to convince officials to accept him for training in both infantry and cavalry schools. He reported for duty in January, 1943 at the age of 19.
Assigned to the 60th Combat Engineer Battalion of the 35th Infantry Division with a military occupational specialty in demolition, he landed in France on July 6, 1944, just 5 days before his 21st birthday. Selected as platoon radio man and later, driver, Alfred and his platoon leader became the reconnaissance arm of their group for the march across France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Holland and into Germany, fighting over much of the same ground as his father before him in 1917-18.
Working ahead of US lines, they saved or destroyed many road and railroad bridges to assist the division’s advance. Shortly before VE day the division reached Magdeburg, Germany, 23 miles from Berlin. Alfred was then transferred to the 35th Division’s Armored Cavalry Reconnaissance Troop to drive an M-8 armored vehicle. During the march across Europe, he had earned five battle stars and a Purple Heart.
Alfred returned to civilian life and college in late 1945, marrying Marian Beach in 1946. They raised two sons and three daughters. His work as a mining engineer and construction superintendent took the family to many locations in the US, and Alfred also spent time in several countries such as China, India, Chile, and Guatemala among others.
Retired since 1981 and widowed in 2003 after 57 years of marriage, Alfred is active in the Audubon Society, the Niles Canyon Railway, the Railway and Locomotive Historical Society and other volunteer and charitable groups. He works several weeks each year as historian on trains running from the Bay Area to Reno.