Internationally renowned journalist Arnaud de Borchgrave has been awarded the Legion of Honor, France's highest civilian distinction.
De Borchgrave received the award at the French Embassy in Washington on July 18 from French Ambassador Francois Delattre, acting on behalf of French President Francois Hollande.
It was Delattre's last official act as ambassador to the United States before moving to New York to serve as France's new United Nations ambassador.
Delattre said Borchgrave is "a World War II hero to whom France is eternally grateful, and one of the most remarkable journalists of our lifetime who is also a great friend of France and an exceptional individual.
"The Legion of Honor was created by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1802 to reward extraordinary accomplishments and outstanding services rendered to France. It is France's highest distinction and one of the most coveted in the world."
During his long career as a journalist, de Borchgrave covered 18 wars and interviewed many world leaders, from Winston Churchill and Charles de Gaulle in the early days of the Cold War, spanning to Saddam Hussein and Moammar Gadhafi in recent years.
But before his career began, he experienced what he calls "15 minutes of horror" and a "moment of glory" on a Normandy beach on June 6, 1944 — D-Day in Europe.
Born in Belgium in 1926, de Borchgrave fled to England after the outbreak of World War II and joined the Royal Navy as a teenager.
On D-Day, he was aboard a landing craft that dropped off troops on Juno Beach when the ramp of his vessel became stuck. He jumped from the craft and was trying to close the ramp when he was wounded in the knee.
Another sailor put him aboard an adjoining vessel to return to his mother ship, and "I was in a hospital in Southampton the next day," he recalls.
De Borchgrave sought to downplay the Legion of Honor award, calling it a "nice belated recognition" of his heroics. But he told Newsmax that he is "very honored" to receive such a lofty award.
After World War II, de Borchgrave was appointed Brussels bureau manager for United Press, and in 1950 he was named Newsweek magazine's bureau chief in Paris and its chief correspondent. At age 27, he was elevated to senior editor in 1953, serving in this post for 25 years.
One of his assignments that year was to cover the war in Indochina between France and communist revolutionaries. He was talking with a French general as French troops were parachuting into Dien Bien Phu and remembers that the general told him, "This will end in disaster."
Dien Bien Phu fell to the insurgents the following year.
De Borchgrave was in Southeast Asia again in 1972, traveling to Hanoi to interview North Vietnamese Prime Minister Pham Van Dong.
At one point during his coverage of the Vietnam War, de Borchgrave was with U.S. Marines near the DMZ when they were ambushed by enemy forces and pinned down for 31 hours, a "very hairy escapade" as he describes it.
In 1985, de Borchgrave became editor in chief of The Washington Times, and he later served as CEO of United Press International. De Borchgrave is now an editor at large for UPI.
He serves as director and senior adviser of the Transnational Threats Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. He was a founding member of Newsmax Media, Inc.’s board of directors and currently serves on its International Advisory Board.
His published works include the runaway best-selling novel "The Spike."
De Borchgrave's longtime wife, Alexandra, told Newsmax she is "enormously proud" of her husband for receiving such a "thrilling and well-deserved" award.
"Everybody is aware of Arnaud's great courage reporting on wars around the world, and I am so happy and proud that his courage is being acknowledged," she said. "I am also proud to have shared 46 years of his life with him."
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