On Wednesday, April 15, the Consul General of France in Boston, Mr. Fabien Fieschi, bestowed the rank of Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur (Knight of the Legion of Honor), France’s highest civil and military distinction, upon American veteran Albert Mastascusa, who participated in D-Day on June 6, 1944, in Normandy, France, among other battles. The ceremony took place place at Medford City Hall in Mayor McGlynn’s office, where family and friends had gathered for this prestigious event.
Mastascusa was selected to be awarded the Legion of Honor for his bravery and heroism. Mastascusa enlisted in the US CoastGuard on October 16, 1942. During his four years of service, he reached the rank of Gunner’s Mate, First Class. Mastascusa served in Europe aboard the Coast Guard Cutter 83417 starting on June 6, 1944 during the Invasion of Normandy. His boat made trips between England and the French coast, specifically Sword Beach, as part of the Coast Guard Rescue Flotilla, otherwise known as the St. Bernards of Normandy. Mastascusa and his fellow flotilla members saved over 1,800 wounded soldiers during the first five days of the invasion of Normandy, rescuing personnel that had been spilled into the water from landing craft and from invasion barges that had been hit by bombs, shore batteries or mines.
In one specific instance, Mastascusa’s cutter rescued 14 men and 2 officers from a sinking British LCT (Landing Craft Tank) that had been torpedoed by a German E-Boat. They then successfully transferred all of the men to a British LST.
For his bravery and dedication during World War II, Mastascusa was decorated with the European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with one bronze service star, the Good Conduct Medal, the World War II Victory Medal, the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal and the American Campaign Medal.
Established in 1802 by Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte, the Legion of Honor is exclusively awarded in cases of exemplary military and civilian services. It is the oldest and highest honor in France. It was awarded by decree of the President of the French Republic, Mr. François Hollande. Since the 60th anniversary of D-Day, France recognizes every year many American veterans of World War II for their courageous service.