Ninety-seven-year-old Kerry man John “Jack” Mahony was named a Chevalier de La Légion d’Honneur, France’s highest honor, for his participation in the European theater of World War II. Mahony received his medal and commendation from Phillipe Ray, first counsellor from the French Embassy, in early December at a ceremony in Midleton, Co. Cork, where he and his late wife, Mary, settled in 1973.
“In honoring you today, Jack, we honor the bravery, commitment, and strength of all the Irish men and women who stood for liberty, equality, and fraternity alongside France over time and continue to do so,” said Ray.
After his family’s London home was bombed by the Germans during the Blitz in 1942, Mahony resigned from the London Metropolitan Police and enlisted in the British Army. After training, he joined the 2nd Seaforth Highlanders and landed on Gold Beach in Normandy on D-Day. He aided in the liberation of the French city of Caen, and, despite being wounded twice in Normandy, went on to the Netherlands to aid airborne units until he was captured by the Germans near Venlo. Mahony spent the remainder of the war in German prisoner-of-war camps.
Mahony’s son, daughter-in-law, grandchildren, extended family, and friends attended the ceremony to honor the hero. “I want to thank all you people who have traveled here, some of you quite a distance for the occasion, which is in the twilight of my time,” Mahony said after receiving the medal. “I’m delighted to receive this honor.” ♦