WWII Veteran Receives French Legion of Honor Medal

On July 11, 2017 World War II veteran Joseph Bariletto was awarded the French Legion of Honor Medal by New York French Consul General Ms. Anne-Claire Legendre during a ceremony held at the Kenilworth VFW Post 2230 .
The French Legion of Honor is an order of distinction first established by Napoleon Bonaparte in May of 1802, and is the highest decoration bestowed in France. American veterans who risked their lives during World War II and who fought on French territory qualify to be decorated as Knights of the Legion of Honor. Joseph fought in two of the four main campaigns during the Liberation of France: Normandy and Northern France. Recipients of this honor are designated by the President of the Republic, Emmanuel Macron.
Joseph was born in Newark, NJ on February 11, 1919 and was inducted into the army on April 8, 1941 at the age of 21. Following completion of basic training at Camp Wheeler, Georgia he was transferred to the 28th Infantry Division, 111th Infantry Regiment at Fort Indiantown Gap, Pennsylvania.
In December, 1941 Congress declared war upon Germany and Joseph and his unit were assigned to the Eastern Defense Command, 3rd Coastal Artillery District at Camp Pendleton, Virginia until the end of 1943. In December Joseph was reassigned from the 111th Infantry Regiment to the 131st Quartermaster Truck Company.
In January 1944 the 131st QM Truck Company received orders for shipment to the European Theater of Operations. Joseph departed the Brooklyn Navy Yard on February 27th aboard the SS Sea Porpoise and after 11 days at sea arrived near Glasgow, Scotland. The 131st remained in the UK for several months moving troops and supplies to various staging areas in preparation for the D-Day invasion.
In July 1944 Joseph departed England for Normandy, France aboard the Liberty ship “George Whitfield”. He disembarked on Utah Beach and was attached to General Patton’s 3rd Army. The 131st hauled troops and supplies of 3rd Army units of the 8th and 83rd Divisions to Avranches and Rennes, France.
In August the company was assigned to Patton’s 6th Armored Division for the drive west across Northern France to capture the strategic port city of Brest. The 131st carried supplies and large amounts of gasoline across Brittany to ensure this phase of the Northern France breakout would not stall. The siege of Brest was one of the most difficult campaigns in Northern France. Following the capture of Brest in September, the unit was attached to 9th Army under General Simpson.
Joseph moved east through Paris arriving near Bastogne where he entered into the Rhineland Campaign in late September 1944. Throughout the month he crisscrossed through Belgium and Holland and in early November prepared for crossing the Rhine into Germany. In the winter of 1945 during the Battle of the Bulge all of the 131st trucks worked around the clock helping pull back troops and supplies from the battle. From January to March 1945 he moved with the 9th Army through Luxemburg, Holland, and Belgium, and in mid- March crossed the Rhine and entered the Central Europe Campaign.
Following Berlin’s surrender in May 1945 the 131st Truck Company was transferred to the 7th Army and stationed outside Potsdam, Germany where they served as motor pool for the Potsdam Conference.
Joseph left Germany in September and arrived at the port of Antwerp, Belgium where he boarded the Victory ship “Rushville Victory” on October 3, 1945. After 8 days at sea Joseph arrived in Brooklyn, NY and was separated from the army on October 16, 1945 at Ft. Dix, NJ.
Joseph served in the American Theater of Operations under 1st Army, under 3 field armies in the European Theater of Operations, received battle credits for four campaigns, two of which were in France, received the Meritorious Service Wreath, and had achieved the rank of Technician Fifth Grade. He received an honorable discharge from the army after having spent over four and a half years in the military.