A World War II veteran from northwest suburban Morton Grove is making Chicago Proud. He just received France's highest honor, the same award once bestowed upon Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel and Former President Dwight D. Eisenhower.
France has always been in Herman Sitrick's heart, but now pinned close to it is a symbol of the nation's gratitude.
"I really don't think of anything that I did as being particularly heroic," Sitrick said.
But the Legion D'Honneur, or Legion of Honor, celebrates the rarest acts of bravery.
As a teenager, Stirick was wounded after landing on the beaches of Normandy after D Day. Shrapnel pierced his leg. He could have gone home, but didn't. Instead, he fought in the Battle of the Bulge, in some of the war's most brutal conditions.
On a frigid night in the Ardennes Forest of Belgium, Sitrick managed to disarm and capture 21 German soldiers, one by one, all by himself. He detained them in a farmhouse until reinforcements arrived.
"Capturing 21 German prisoners at about 19 years old by yourself is not a small undertaking," said retired Lieutenant General H Steven Blum, U.S. Army.
But since then, Sitrick has rarely spoken about that night. The now-92-year-old great-grandfather said his heart simply answered the cal.
"I never felt like a hero. I was there and I had to do what had to be done," Sitrick said.