A Groveport man who fought from Omaha Beach to St. Lo during World War II was awarded France's highest honor during an intimate ceremony in Upper Arlington over the weekend.

A Groveport man who fought from Omaha Beach to St. Lo during World War II was awarded France's highest honor during an intimate ceremony in Upper Arlington over the weekend.

Marion C. Gray, 92, was appointed a Chevalier, a Knight of the Legion of Honor, at La Chatelaine French Bakery and Bistro on Sunday for valorous action during World War II.

It is the highest honor given by the French Republic.

A medic with the 29th Infantry Division, Sgt. Gray was the first Franklin County man to be wounded in battle at Omaha Beach in Normandy on D-Day, June 6, 1944, where he took shrapnel in both an arm and a leg.

Continuing to treat fallen soldiers during the battle, Gray was eventually evacuated to England and hospitalized. With the option to be evacuated to the U.S., Gray instead traveled back to France, where he rejoined the 29th Division on July 13 and fought in the battle of St. Lo. Gray continued to serve in France and across Germany until Victory in Europe Day, May 7, 1945.

Gray was later awarded both the Purple Heart and Bronze Star for heroic service.

Several of Gray's fellow veterans and family members filled La Chatelaine on Feb. 26 to support him as he received the honor from Graham Paul, consul general of France.

"I'm telling you, it was beautiful," Gray said. "I couldn't have asked for anything more. (La Chatelaine owners Stan and Régine Wielezynski), and their daughter, Charlotte, They did a wonderful job for me. It was emotional."

American citizens who immigrated from France in 1985, the Wielezynskis first met Gray in 2001 when he was working to fund a trip back to Omaha Beach.

"We were so moved by this fine man that we decided almost immediately for him and his wife, Ruth, to travel to France and to spend 10 days in June 2001 walking the beach, kneeling at the white crosses and stars of his comrades' graves and visiting the country he helped to free," the Wielezynskis wrote in preparations for the award ceremony.

Gray said returning for the 65th anniversary of D-Day two years ago was journey he will always remember.

"I'll tell you what, I was treated like a king, they just treated me fine," he said. "And of course I also wanted to thank everyone that was there (Sunday), for showing up and remembering us veterans."

Gray's son-in-law, John Neth, said it has been wonderful to see his father-in-law recognized for his service to his country.

"The family's been pretty excited," Neth said. "Marion didn't talk about World War II up until about 10 years ago - that generation, they never said a thing about their involvement. This has been pretty exciting."

Some of Gray's stories of his experiences during World War II have been recorded recently. In November 2011, he spoke at the Tipton Historical Site in Johnson City, Tenn., during the Watauga Historical Association's Veterans Day event. That video can be viewed online at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dn-kBN4Y8CY.