BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – A local veteran was honored Monday for his service during World War II. Corporal Howard Tobin was recognized by not one but two nations. Tobin, 93, doesn’t like to be the center of attention.
But at the Town Hall in Cheektowaga, he received the highest honor from France: the Legion of Honor, for his service decades ago, Helping to liberate France during World War II.
Pascal Soares with the Honorary French Consul presented Tobin with the award. He said, “We French, will never forget what those men did, what you did, to restore our freedom.”
Nearly 74 years after serving in the U.S. Army, Corporal Tobin receives the medals he deserves. Soares said, “You moved through France, liberating villages and cities to the Mosel River in Germany. You took part in one of the most difficult WWII battles, The Battle of the Bulge.”
With more medals than could fit over his heart, Both France and the United States give him the much overdue honor. Soares said, “Today you are our hero, today you are my liberator.”
For Tobin, this day is a reminder of the months he spent abroad: He said, “You never forget.”
It’s not something he talks about, often. Tobin said, “It is the memory of it, which is sort of sad in a way, because of all the many soldiers who didn’t make it.”
His daughter, Jill Griffin said, ” It’s something he didn’t want to remember. It was something that he just didn’t like to discuss, because it was World War II, he saw a lot and I don’t think those are memories he wants to relive.”
But through the sadness, Tobin said he wears the badges with pride, to remember those who we lost, who stood by his side. He said, “I wish they could be here alive so they could celebrate the same day that I just did. ”
Tobin was presented with 5 U.S. medals as well as the French Legion of Honor medal. He served in the 551st anti-aircraft artillery regiment, which helped liberate several French cities. He also fought in the Battle of the Bulge and witnessed the liberation of Nazi concentration camps.