by T.W. Budig
ECM Capitol Reporter
The sweeping battlefields on which they displayed their valor as American soldiers fell quiet almost 70 years ago.
But the people of France have not forgotten World War II veterans Ken Krueger of Blaine and John (Jack) Teman of Eden Prairie.
Krueger, 86, and Teman, 91, were presented the French Legion of Honor Feb. 15 at the State Capitol, the highest award France can bestow for meritorious deeds.
Krueger and Teman were honored at a Veterans Day on the Hill ceremony in the Capitol Rotunda.
“Thanks to their courage, France has been living in peace for the past six decades,” said Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs Deputy Commissioner Reggie Worlds, who presented the medals to the old soldiers on behalf of the people of France.
Krueger, a former Army technician, served with the 92nd Signal Battalion in Gen. George Patton’s Third Army and participated in campaigns sweeping the American effort in Europe — the Normandy campaign to the Rhineland and beyond.
Krueger recently received three letters from friends in France who read in French newspapers the announcement of the awards.
“So more French people know me than here,” he said.
Although the guns long ago fell silent, Krueger remembers moonlight nights and being told by an M.P., carefully standing in the shadows, that there was a sniper down the road where Krueger was heading “‘and every half hour or so he (the sniper) was taking potshots,’” Krueger recalled.
Krueger remembers a harrowing drive down that road at high speed, slung low in the driver’s seat, peering through the steering wheel spokes ahead into the night.
“If he (the sniper) shot at me, I didn’t know,” he said.
Teman served as a second lieutenant in the 439th Transportation and Carry Company and like Krueger his progress marked the movement of the U.S. Army in battling the Nazis.
The campaigns Teman participated in ranged from the Rome campaign in Italy, to southern France and on into the German Rhineland.
“Those were hard times,” said Teman, who although needing some assistance, stood with a military bearing to receive his medal.
“What higher deeds than yours?” Worlds rhetorically asked the two soldiers, their coats now bright with slashes of French red.
There are about 380,000 military veterans in Minnesota.