France awards Minot WWII veteran Lynn Aas with nation's top honor

MINOT, N.D. - A World War II hero who calls Minot home has received a major honor for his service in the war from the government of France.

World War II ended more than 70 years ago, but Americans are still receiving praise for their role in helping liberate Europe—including one such hero in the Magic City.

The French government has awarded Minot's Lynn Aas with the 'Knight of the Legion of Honor' medal, the nation’s highest honor. The 96-year-old Aas, who served across several theatres of war in Europe, said he was shocked.

“I was totally caught off guard, but I could only say that I recognize the importance, and I felt elated, I guess you could say, after I realized that this was real,” said Aas.

Along with the medal the French consulate out of Chicago sent Aas a letter of congratulations and thanks. The letter reads "73 years ago, you gave your youth to France and the French People. Many of your fellow soldiers did not return but they remain in our hearts."

“Napoleon founded, started this award in 1802, and it's been going continuously ever since,” he said.

Aas earned the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart for his bravery in the war, where he survived a glider crash and a shrapnel attack.

He also traveled to Belgium in 2015 to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Battle of the Bulge. This medal from France serves as further validation of what his generation accomplished a sea away.

“I've gone through these emotions with the military a lot, and this is probably the most excited I've been on any of these events that I can remember,” he said.

An honor, more than seven decades in the making.

French officials will formally present the award to Aas at a ceremony later this year.

Aas will also serve as the grand marshal of the State Fair Parade on Sat., July 22.

The letter from the French Consulate in Chicago to Lynn Aas is attached to this story.