Reaping the reward
50 years later, French honor World War 2 Vet
By Thor Jourgensen, Daily Evening Item (Lynn, MA)
|He fought across Europe more
than 50 years ago, clearing land mines so that allied infantry could stab
into the heart of Hitler's Germany.
Tomorrow, Michael Zorbas will stand with fellow World War 2 veterans aboard the USS John F. Kennedy and be honored for his service by representatives of the French government.
Zorbas is one of a host of American veterans singled out for military honors over the last several years on behalf of the nation they liberated from Nazi tyranny.
The Lynn native learned about the honor in May at a reunion of his old unit, the 150th Combat Engineers, a unit that landed on the French coast in Normandy and fought across Europe with the U.S. third Army. Veterans of the 150th hold an annual reunion on Cape Cod.
Zorbas and his engineers fought ahead of the fighters and often paid for their bravery with their lives.
He was shot at and witnessed friends die including a buddy who got too close to an antitank mine.
" We had to pick up what was left with a shovel, "he said.
Zorbas earned the Bronze Star for the bravery he demonstrated in repeatedly ferrying infantry across a river in Luxembourg in an open boat.
"There were a lot of mortars and small arms fire. I felt like one of those ducks in an amusement park game," he said.
Zorbas' wife, Barbara, his daughter, Thea Antunes, and son-and-law Steven, will be watching proudly as he receives the French award.
But the pride he feels for service to his country is tempered by the goodbyes he has had to say in the last several years to departed friends.
"In the last five years a lot of my buddies have died," he said.