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Published:March 18th, 2009 13:39 EST
Oldest Living WWI Veteran Is Recognized For His Service

Oldest Living WWI Veteran Is Recognized For His Service

By Christopher HIllenbrand

Britain`s oldest living World War I veteran was bestowed one of France`s most prestigious awards for military service on Monday, to pay tribute to the sacrifice he made in combat.

In addition to being the oldest British WWI survivor, Henry Allingham, at 112 years young, is also Britain`s oldest citizen. The honored recipient was awarded the Legion d`Honneur medal by the French Ambassador Maurice Gourdault-Montagne in an event held at the diplomat`s home in London.

Allingham`s grandson, David Gray, even flew in from Michigan to see his grandfather finally receive the recognition he so deserves. On the award, Gray spoke about how the years haven`t stalled his grandfather in life`s smaller pleasures we all take for granted.

"Despite his years, he still enjoys a joke and is as sharp as ever. He`s determined to ensure that today`s generation does not forget the sacrifice of those who fought in World War I and World War II. I`m delighted for him to be receiving this mark of such gratitude from the French people."

British Veterans Minister Kevan Jones, who was a guest at the celebration, remarked that Mr. Allingham had talked to young students in various elementary schools to help the kids "remember the sacrifice thousands of British soldiers made in World War I and ensured that they understand the debt of gratitude we owe them."

Jones referred to the medal as "a wonderful tribute to Henry`s bravery and committment."

Henry Allingham was born in 1896 and was on the frontlines during the Battle of Jutland occurring between May 31st and June 1st, 1916 along the North Sea in Denmark. As another heralded achievement, Allingham was one of the original members of the Royal Air Force.

Harry Patch, one of three living Britons who fought in WWI, was also given the award. Patch is 110 years old. The other survivor is 107-year-old Claude Choules, who currently resides in Australia and was unable to attend the ceremony.