News


Palo Altan receives French Legion of Honor medal

Alfred Pepper, 96, helped to liberate France in 1944

Sixty-six years after he stormed onto Omaha Beach in France in the early hours of World War II's D-Day invasion, Alfred Pepper, now 96, was awarded the French Legion of Honor medal in his Palo Alto home.

He was surrounded by 20 family members and friends during the ceremony Friday (Dec. 17) afternoon.

Pepper rarely spoke of his contributions to the World War II effort during his long life, according to his daughter, Jan.

But Romain Serman, Consul General of the Republic of France, described the horrors that Pepper must have gone through in those first hours of landing on Omaha Beach on D-Day: the bloodshed, the casualties, and pulling out the bodies of his friends and comrades, Serman said.

"It is really difficult for me to imagine how much courage and bravery it took," Serman said, in an emotional speech in Pepper's living room in the Barron Park neighborhood.

"Courage and bravery are precisely the qualities Napoleon wanted to reward when he created the award in 1802," Serman said of his country's highest honor.

Serman removed the medal, a white-enameled five-ray star on a wreath of leaves with a gold medallion in the center, ringed by blue enamel, from a box. It sat alongside numerous medals that Pepper received for his service while in the U.S. Army during the war, including a Bronze Star.

He pinned the red-ribbon medallion to Pepper's chest. Pepper remained silent but looked proud, as family members wiped away tears.

Pepper's children learned only that very afternoon that their father had been rendered unconscious for 12 days after being shelled while fighting in Anzio, Sicily. After that, he was shipped to Liverpool, England, and the next place he landed was Omaha Beach, just two hours into the D-Day invasion.

"He only told me about it," said his 93-year-old brother, Ralph Pepper, who served in the U.S. Navy during the war. Pepper never shared that story with anyone else, he said.

Jan Pepper's eyes grew moist as she sat beside her father.

"I'm really proud of him. I wish I could be as brave as my father. He's just so brave. When I get scared, I think of him," she said.

Up on the cliffs above Omaha Beach, more than 9,000 soldiers are buried. Pepper and the other brave soldiers fought for six hours until they could secure the narrow strip of sand.

"He's lucky to be alive," Giulio Chioini, father-in-law to Pepper's son, Don, said.

Pepper saluted as rain gently pattered outside. He remained silent. But he smiled.

Related article:

Palo Altan Alfred Pepper to receive French war decoration

Comments

Like this comment
Posted by Proud of Mr Pepper
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Dec 17, 2010 at 10:55 pm

I am so amazed by this story. We, and many other countries, owe so much to heros like Mr. Pepper. I am also equally touched by the wonderful family life this true gentleman has created. What an inspirational story in these challenging times. God Bless and Happy Holidays, Mr Pepper and family.


Like this comment
Posted by Neal
a resident of Community Center
on Dec 18, 2010 at 4:42 pm

Congratulations. Thank you for your courageous service. It's nice to read a positive story.


Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Dec 18, 2010 at 6:29 pm

"Pepper saluted as rain gently pattered outside. He remained silent."

How much we owe him and those who have served to protect us. How sad that, in this time of an all volunteer military, there are so few young men and women from Palo Alto, Menlo Park and Atherton who have followed in Alfred Pepper's footsteps.


Like this comment
Posted by Disgusted with peters comments
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Dec 18, 2010 at 8:41 pm

Peter, how do you know how many people from this area are in the military?i find your comments extremely out of place and uncalled for.maybe you should stick to monitoring the menlo park council instead of tarring young people with a scurrilous brush.shame on you.


Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Dec 18, 2010 at 9:04 pm

Disgusted - I am sorry that you are offended by the fact that the military participation rates for Palo Alto, Menlo Park and Atherton youths are far below those of less economically well off communities. The burden of defending our freedom is not being borne by the affluent youths of today.


Like this comment
Posted by Disgusted with peters comments
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Dec 18, 2010 at 9:28 pm

Peter, lets see some numbers from you proving your claim about our youth.all we have now is the claims of a self proclaimed watchdog.


Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Dec 18, 2010 at 9:35 pm

How many local youths do you know who are in the military?
How many local youths are on the Iraq/Afghanistan casualty list?

This is actually off topic and perhaps worth another thread.

Once again how much we owe Alfred Pepper and those who have served to protect us and our freedoms. Thank You


Like this comment
Posted by Disgusted with peters comments
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Dec 19, 2010 at 7:32 am

Peter makes claims without proof. Then demands that you provide the proof for him! Then he claims the issue he introduced is off topic!


Like this comment
Posted by Garden Gnome
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 20, 2010 at 10:36 am

Thank you, Mr. Alfred Pepper, for your service.

The world is a better place because of you.


Like this comment
Posted by A Noun Ea Mus
a resident of Professorville
on Dec 21, 2010 at 1:32 am

Peter,

If we were currently in Iraq or Afghanistan fighting anything resembling the Nazi's of the 1940's I am sure MANY more young people across the land would be clamoring to volunteer. Al Queda is composed of a central core (Pakistan and maybe a few hundred in Afghanistan), national franchises (Yemen, Somalia, etc.) and individuals (Underwear bomber, etc.) who sign up. It will be lucky if there is even some coalition government someday to stabilize.

All we've done in Iraq is setup a situation whereby Iran will be the major player. And in Afghanistan we just initally took the easy route of sending in the Northern Alliance (notoriously corrup and drug lords pre-Taliban takeover and no different now).

The "war", or the enemy, is being pushed East....from Egypt, Yemen, Saudi Arabia where the initial players originated...now on to Pakistan and Indonesia. Yes there is a problem, but with the Soviet Union gone as the big boogeyman, until China is a more major threat Al Queda serves as a way for the military/industrial cronies to get their coffers filled.

But why not hijack the story of honoring this true hero who must have suffered tremendously before the beach was secured? A traffic death ensues and everyone weighs in with judgement and their axes to grind. A WWII serviceman is belatedly honored for his sacrifice and it's used to belittle the affluent youth of today. Axes without fact'us.

But there is a point that Peter has....if not exactly how he posits it. In the Vietnam War, perhaps because of the draft, there was a national feeling that we were all in it together. Although many of the WWII generation seemed to have this attitude of "hey we won our war how come you can't win yours?!". But now the simmering up/down wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are so far on the back burner consciousness over half the country. And yes (duh) it's not the affluent who are, for the most part, signing up for the deployment and combat.


Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Dec 21, 2010 at 9:35 am

A Noun Ea Mus states:"In the Vietnam War, perhaps because of the draft, there was a national feeling that we were all in it together. Although many of the WWII generation seemed to have this attitude of "hey we won our war how come you can't win yours?!". But now the simmering up/down wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are so far on the back burner consciousness over half the country. And yes (duh) it's not the affluent who are, for the most part, signing up for the deployment and combat."

Thank you - you said what I feel much better than I did. Mr. Peppers sacrifices and his recent award simply served to remind me of both how much we owe him and , as well, how much we owe those who are currently serving. We are at war but it is a war that is hardly felt or recognized, even on Veterans Day when there was not a single public ceremony in our local communities, by the more affluent segments of our society.


Like this comment
Posted by Disgusted with peters comments
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Dec 21, 2010 at 9:50 am

" We are at war but it is a war that is hardly felt or recognized, even on Veterans Day when there was not a single public ceremony in our local communities, by the more affluent segments of our society."
Once again Peter uses his broad brush to malign "affluent" segments of our community (whatever that means)--after first maligning the youth of our area. And once again Peter is off topic with his diatribes attacking everyone and anyone.
By the way perhaps Peter should read these articles which describe Veteran Days events in both san Mateo and Santa Clara county:

Web Link
Web Link

Clearly showing that his claims about not a single ceremony in our community is false and revolting


Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Dec 21, 2010 at 10:03 am

Digusted has proved my point - Where were the ceremonies - Campbell, Cupertino, Milpitas, San Jose, Redwood City, San Mateo and the Golden Gate National Cemetery. There was not a single public ceremony in Paolo Alto, Menlo Park or Atherton on Veterans Day. Perhaps that is acceptable to Disgusted but to me, a war veteran, it is a sad commentary on our local priorities.




Like this comment
Posted by Disgusted with peters comments
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Dec 21, 2010 at 10:39 am

Peter makes the statement:
"when there was not a single public ceremony in our local communities"

I provide him with a list of local communities that had ceremonies, so he nitpicks and claims there were no ceremonies in Palo Alto, Menlo Par and Atherton. As usual Peter paints with a broad brush--attacking all.
Well, Peter , here is information about the ceremony in Menlo PArk:

Web Link

or perhaps this story will be of interest:

Web Link
"On Veterans Day, Patch will cover the San Jose Veteran's Day Parade hosted by the United Veterans Council of Santa Clara County. "
FYI, Peter, Palo Alto is in Santa Clara county.

Perhaos you check the facts, Peter, before disparaging others with your broad brush.


Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Dec 21, 2010 at 10:46 am

Disgusted - keep digging and keep proving my point. The "Menlo Park" ceremony was held on federal property by the VA for the VA. And the other ceremony was held in Mountain View.

I look forward to more examples of what didn't happen on Veterans Day in Palo Alto, Menlo Park and Atherton.


Like this comment
Posted by Disgusted with peters comments
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Dec 21, 2010 at 3:10 pm

Now that I have provided proof for veterans day activities in the local community, peter has changed the definition of "local community"to mean only palo alto menlo park and atherton. Clearly nothing will stand in peters way of casting aspersions on local residents.i am still waiting for peter to provide the numbers for how many local residents are serving in the military and their economic background.i have a feeling that the facts have no place in peters rhetoric


Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Dec 21, 2010 at 4:17 pm

Disgusted states:"peter has changed the definition of "local community"to mean only palo alto menlo park and atherton"

Peter Carpenter, Dec 18 stated:"Palo Alto, Menlo Park and Atherton "

Unfortunately enlistment rates are not reported by Zip code so I can only rely on my perception that few of our 'local' citizens are serving in the military today. Evidence to the contrary would be welcomed.


Like this comment
Posted by Disgusted with peters comments
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Dec 21, 2010 at 4:46 pm

Peter I do not need to provide "evidence to the contrary".you made the insulting statement that youth from affluent communities do not serve in the military. It is now upon you to provide the proof. Along with the economic background of those that are serving. Your perceptions do not count as facts.you painted all local youth with a broad, derogatory brush-now I am calling you out to provide the proof or else provide an apology.


Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Dec 21, 2010 at 4:50 pm

My perception is that few of our 'local' citizens are serving in the military today. Evidence to the contrary would be welcomed.


Like this comment
Posted by Disgusted with peters comments
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Dec 21, 2010 at 4:52 pm

Regarding your local community comment:
"Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton, 7 hours ago A Noun Ea Mus states:"Ing. We are at war but it is a war that is hardly felt or recognized, even on Veterans Day when there was not a single public ceremony in our local communities, by the more affluent segments of our society."

I rest my case.


Like this comment
Posted by Disgusted with peters comments
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Dec 21, 2010 at 4:57 pm

Peter,do you just repeat comments over and over again and claim they are facts? You made the slanderous claim that local youth are not serving the country.please provide period of said claim not conjecture and "perceptions". Time for you to put up some facts to back your claims.i will assume you have none since you are playing duck and dodge and trying to shift the onus onto me.


Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Dec 21, 2010 at 5:12 pm

I stand by my statement :"My perception is that few of our 'local' citizens are serving in the military today." I have lived in Palo Alto and Atherton since 1973 and, as a war veteran, I am well connected both with other veterans and active in the local community - I do believe that there is little local awareness of the wars that others are fighting for us and little local participation in those wars.

You may have different experiences and perceptions - so be it.


Like this comment
Posted by Disgusted with peters comments
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Dec 21, 2010 at 6:04 pm

Love how you try to backtrack from your comments.back on dec. 18th you made already and definitive statement that few young people from paloalto,menloparkand atherfin are serving in the military. You also stated that day that the affluent youth of this area are not doing their part. When called upon, over and over, to provide facts you now claim it is your "perception"-so we now know that your have no facts whatsoever to back up your claims. You also claim that their little awareness of the ongoing wars. Clearly you think so little of our community that you feel we live in a self centered vacuum. No proof for these claims either.clearly you are a person who likes to hear himself make outrageous claims and then when called on them retreats into an argument of "i did this and I know this and I perceive this"-unfortunately it is all talk and no proof


Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Dec 21, 2010 at 6:06 pm

You may have different experiences and perceptions - so be it.


Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Dec 21, 2010 at 7:07 pm

If you want cold hard facts go to

Web Link

Search Palo Alto, Menlo Park and Atherton - only two hits, both gallant warriors who died at the Palo Alto VA but both of them were from someplace else. No one whose hometown was Palo Alto, Menlo Park or Atherton.


Like this comment
Posted by Palo Parent
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Dec 21, 2010 at 7:53 pm

Don't . . . feed . . . the . . . trolls.


Like this comment
Posted by A Noun Ea Mus
a resident of Professorville
on Dec 21, 2010 at 9:13 pm

Hey just to attempt to add some humor in case anyone is reading this thread still.

How about a take off of the play with the lyrics..."Send in the Clowns"

Now being..."Don't feed the trolls".....


Like this comment
Posted by Disgusted with peters comments
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Dec 21, 2010 at 10:58 pm

Peter-what about soldiers from redwood city. Mountain view.redwood city, other comparable cities in the US? Why these attacks on the youth of our city? Also do not muddy the waters with your "experiences and perceptions"-you made certain claims now you should back them up with facts.


Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Dec 22, 2010 at 7:37 am

Redwood City - 2
Mountain View - 1


May they rest in peace.

Goodbye to this thread.

(Disgusted - contact me directly IF you want a serious discussion)


Like this comment
Posted by Veteran
a resident of Stanford
on Dec 22, 2010 at 9:56 am

"Search Palo Alto, Menlo Park and Atherton - only two hits, both gallant warriors who died at the Palo Alto VA but both of them were from someplace else. No one whose hometown was Palo Alto, Menlo Park or Atherton."

I find it very strange that Mr Carpenter is upset that there are no dead soldiers from Palo Alto, Menlo Park or Atherton.


Like this comment
Posted by Disgusted with peters comments
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Dec 22, 2010 at 10:45 am

"(Disgusted - contact me directly IF you want a serious discussion)"

We are having a serious discussion. You made a series of charges, I am asking for proof. I take your accusations vis a vis the youth of our community as well as the comments that people in this community are not "aware" of the wars we are engaged in very seriously. I think you are painting with a very broad brush and do not care who you are smearing.

BTW my comment "what about soldiers from redwood city. Mountain view.redwood city, other comparable cities in the US?" referred to not dead soldiers but the number of people from these areas that are serving in the military.

Anyway, I think you are channelling your anger over what you see as a slight by the local communities of not recognizing your service on Veteran's day into am attack on our local communities and their service to the country.


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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