Calexico veteran receives French Legion of Honor Medal

SAN DIEGO, Calif. –

An exciting day for 91-year-old WWII  veteran Rudy Villalobs of Calexico.


He was given the French Legion of Honor Medal at the Air & Space Museum in San Diego.



“At this age with this honor, it’s just wonderful.  It’s just great to be alive,” Villalobos said.


Fourteen WWII veterans were honored and it took about a year to process to get to this event.

Deputy Counsel General of France presented the medals to each veteran.

“Your courage and dedication is an example to us all.  You are  the example of the greatest generation which faced the despair and degradation of the great depression,” Deputy Counsul General of France Fabrice Maiolino said.

Villalobos was among B-17 Bomber pilots and gunners and technicians who flew several missions over Europe.

Villalobos attributes getting through that time with the prayers of family and friends.


“It was the prayers of many people.  It was very spiritual to have come back without a scratch.  I saw a lot of scratches on other people,” Villalobos said.

Villabos was a Technical Sergeant radio operator and gunner in the Army Air Corps now called the Air Force.

He flew 32 missions and fought during D-Day.


“This is very touching because it’s a real event that recognizes something that happened so many years ago.  He’s like many millions of surviving veterans right now who are very special and still very honored to have them here,” Villalobos son Rolando said.

About The Author

Eduardo Santiago joined the FOX 9 and ABC 5 news team in February, 2012. That’s the same year KECY launched its very first local newscast. He has been covering local news in Yuma and the Imperial Valley since his start as a KYMA photojournalist in 2006. During his decade in broadcasting, Eduardo has covered some of the biggest stories in the Desert Southwest – from President Bush’s visit to Yuma, Ariz. to the uncovering of drug tunnels that span the US-Mexico border. One of the most memorable stories Eduardo covered was the 2010 Easter Earthquake that rocked the Imperial Valley, Mexicali, and Yuma. Eduardo, along with his news team, won an award from the Associated Press for best coverage of an ongoing story following the quake. Before he made his move to TV, Eduardo was just a kid born in East Los Angeles, where he spent his early childhood. His parents moved him to Mexicali, B.C. Mexico, where he did most of his elementary school education. He finally landed in El Centro, where he graduated from Central Union High School in 2005. Eduardo is currently a student at Imperial Valley College. You can find Eduardo hanging out in the Imperial Valley and Yuma with his family on any given weekend. His off-screen passion is playing guitar and sports.

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