HIGH POINT, N.C., Dec. 7, 2012 – Joe Kaper received France’s highest honor, the Legion of Honor Medal, for his service in World War II today on the High Point University campus during a ceremony where Rep. Howard Coble presented the medal to him.
Kaper, now 89 years old, served with the 295th Combat Engineer Battalion in Scotland and England during his service but was sent to Omaha Beach, the German-occupied territory of France during the war, a few days after D-Day.
Napoleon created the honor in 1802, and the French government has for years awarded it to every veteran who fought to liberate France from Nazi occupation during World War II. The medal came directly from the President of the French Republic.
Kaper is also a two-time recipient of the Purple Heart.
“I’m honored and humbled to receive this award from the president of France,” said Kaper at the event. “The honor comes from me being in two battles in France in 1944. I received combat wounds in both battles, so I remember it very well. Based on that alone, I’m honored to receive this medal.”
After the war ended, Kaper returned to the U.S. and studied engineering at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh. He moved to North Carolina in 1958 and worked in the industrial engineer field for 25 years. During his career, he was instrumental in developing the first nylon zipper in the U.S. for Talon. He married Ellen Hughes Kaper in 1980 and moved to High Point in 2000. His love for church, family and country is evident by his service to others and his commitment.