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Brea WWII Veteran John Knapp Receives French Legion of Honor

6 years ago by in ( News , Welcome to Brea )

Long-time Brea resident John Knapp recently received the pretigious French Legion of Honor medal from the French Consul General Alex Cruau in a ceremony at the Bob Hope Patriotic Hall in Los Angeles.(courtesy Bob Johnson)

    France awards Brea veteran Legion of Honor medal for World War II Service: Long-time Brea resident John Knapp has been honored by the government of France with its highest decoration, the medal of the French Legion of Honor, for his heroic actions and extraordinary accomplishments helping liberate France during World War II. The prestigious recognition was awarded by the Consul of France Alex Cruau at a morning ceremony Jan. 30 at Bob Hope Patriotic Hall, Los Angeles.

      Staff Sergeant John Christopher Knapp was attached to the famed WWII 44th Infantry Division of the U.S. Army National Guard, which saw 190 days of combat in Northern France, the Rhineland, Central Europe and the Ardennes-Alsace.

        Born in 1920 in Bridgeport, Connecticut, and brought up in Detroit, John was drafted into the Army in 1942 and initially sent to North Africa, where his mechanical skill with the motor pool earned him his first promotion. He then became attached to the 44th Infantry, which tirelessly chased the Nazis through Germany, Italy, Austria and France.

          While on patrol, John’s company ran into a Nazi machine gun nest. Two of his fellow soldiers were hit, along with the company’s medics. John helped move these wounded to safety, and then rescued two more injured by a grenade. He eliminated that threat, and then made his way to the three-man machine gun nest and silenced it as well. For these actions he was awarded the Combat Infantry Badge for “Performance of Duty in Action Against the Enemy,” a Silver Star and two Bronze Stars. On a better day, he still fondly remembers getting to see Marlena Dietrich and have his picture taken with her at a USO Show.

            John had married before the war started, and when it was over, he and his wife Mary purchased a home and soon added a daughter to the family. He worked at Ford Motor Company in the engineering department, and delighted in attending the 1957 Indy 500 where Ford came out the winner. He enjoyed racing motorcycles for many years, and his love of golf brought him numerous trophies and prizes, as well as 13 holes in one.

              A resident of Brea since 1977, John lost his wife of 73 years last fall. He has one grandson, Travis John, who follows in his grandfather’s footsteps with a love for both golf and racing, either motorcycles or off-road cars.

                Any news? Give Susan Gaede a jingle at (714)529-8561 or e-mail her at
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"Thank you" for visiting Beautiful Brea Old & New (BBON). First & foremost, I am a proud mother & wife. I am also a well-rounded freelance consultant. But you can call me an enthusiastic cheerleader, supporting and promoting the city of Brea and its historic iconic Charlie's Clock turned "Charlie the Clock cartoon character!" Click on the front page illustration to read about the beloved time traveling talking clock!!

  • Carolyn Campbell

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