More than 67 years since his secret missions were accomplished during World War II, a United States Army veteran from Plainsboro has received one of the highest honors the government of France has to offer.
Lewis Bloom, who served in Army Intelligence analyzing the strength, command structure, and weaponry of competing military forces, was cited as one of 35 American servicemen who “risked their young lives for the freedom of France and Europe.”
In awarding Legion of Honor medals to the American veterans at a May 8 ceremony at the United States Military Academy West Point, French Ambassador to the United States François Delattre said of the honorees, “If France is what it is today, a free and sovereign country, we will never forget that it is thanks to them, to their bravery and sovereign country.”
Also presenting the medals was Guy Wildenstein, president of the American Society of the French Legion of Honor.
“I feel honored,” Bloom told NJ Jewish News in a May 30 phone interview. “All of that happened a long time ago, but it has finally come to pass.”
It is the second time that Bloom’s contributions to the Allied victory in World War II were overlooked due to military bureaucracy.
In February 2010, Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) presented him with the New Jersey Distinguished Service Medal and United States Army Bronze Star. “Lieutenant Bloom received intelligence reports and enabled his commanders to determine what the opposing forces were going to do,” Menendez said in a presentation ceremony at his Newark office.
Along with Menendez, it took the diligence and persistence of Bloom’s wife, Adaline, to retrieve his long-lost records through the Pentagon and make sure he was properly recognized by his own country for his contributions.
Two years later, the French came to a similar conclusion, and Bloom told NJJN, he was equally proud, and equally surprised.
“My records when the war ended were kaput. They were lost. There was tremendous administrative confusion, and my presumption is, they got screwed up in the mail,” he said.
About six months ago Bloom was informed by letter from the French government that he was to receive one of that country’s highest honors, one established by Napoleon in 1808.
Although it is the most coveted military medal in France, the Legion of Honor is divided into five degrees. “Mine is the lowest,” Bloom said with evident modesty. “I am merely a knight, a chevalier.”
He brings a touch of humor in assessing his latest decoration. “At my age I never expected it again,” he said. “I am 94 years old, and every so often I have to think about whether I was in the Second World War or the Civil War.”