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France To Award Medals Of Honor To Colorado World War II Vets

Medal of Honor recipients
Courtesy of Brad Hoopes
Clockwise from top left: Lt. Leila Morrison, Staff Sgt. Philip Daily, Lt. Armand Sedgeley, Capt. Joe Graham, 2nd Lt. William Powell, Staff Sgt. Harry Maroncelli.

Army Lt. Leila Morrison was a combat nurse during World War II.

"She would talk about trying to take care of the boys while shells were exploding over her head and how, 'I've got to keep myself composed,'" said Brad Hoopes, who documents the stories of Colorado veterans. "'I can't let these boys know that I'm scared.'"

Morrison later cared for prisoners freed from the Nazi Buchenwald concentration camp in Germany.

Hoopes petitioned France to recognize the service of Morrison, of Windsor, along with several other veterans.

"I just went through all of my interviews of people I knew who might have possibly served in France and just sent in their applications," Hoopes said.

France has responded with its highest award — the Legion of Honor Medal . On Monday, a representative from the country's consulate in the United States will be in Windsor to honor the American veterans.

"As I heard more and more of these stories, I thought I've got to do anything I can to help and honor these guys," Hoopes said. "It just consumed me."

In addition to Morrison, the veterans also receiving honors are:

  • Staff Sgt. Philip Daily of Brighton, a B-17 tailgunner who was shot down on his 25th mission. He became a prisoner of war and survived a forced winter march.

  • 2nd Lt. William Powell of Fort Collins, a B-24 pilot who became a prisoner of war after his plane went down.

  • Staff Sgt. Harry Maroncelli of Fort Collins, a ball turret gunner on a B-17 Flying Fortress, who beat the odds and made it to his required 35th mission.

  • Lt. Armand Sedgeley of Lakewood, a B-17 Flying Fortress bombardier who was shot down off the coast of Corsica.

Capt. Joe Graham, a tank commander, will be remembered privately. His son, Jack Graham of Fort Collins, will receive the honor posthumously.
This isn't the first time France has bestowed legion medals on veterans in Northern Colorado. In 2017, Hoopes said the consulate gave medals to another group in Windsor.

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