SAN FRANCISCO — In a ceremony Feb. 12 at the French Consulate in San Francisco, Dr. Duane Hyde — a longtime resident and family doctor of King City — was recognized for his service in World War II with the Legion of Honor medal, France’s highest order of merit for military and civil awards.
Hyde served as a staff sergeant with the 70th Infantry Division. After training, he was deployed to Southern France, where he and his fellow soldiers were put in box cars, transported to the region of Alsace and immediately placed into combat during freezing weather in 1943.
Later, while fighting in the Hartz Mountains a few miles above Neiderbroun, his unit advanced successfully and took over a German-entrenched unit, protecting the mountain top.
After a cold night in a foxhole, in the morning they heard, “Go get a hot breakfast,” and on the way, an 88MM shell exploded, injuring him and two other men.
His significant decorations include the Combat Infantry Badge, Purple Heart, Bronze Star, Good Combat Medal and the European-African-Middle Eastern Theater Campaign Medal.
Upon receiving the Legion of Honor medal, 95-year-old Hyde said, “I am not a hero, but I am proud and honored to receive it for the true heroes, the men and women who fought there and never came home.”
A native of North Dakota, Hyde came to King City in the 1950s after serving in World War II and completing his medical degree at University of Chicago. He practiced medicine at the local clinic and helped open Mee Memorial Hospital, where he worked for more than 40 years, delivering thousands of babies and taking care of three generations of families in South County.
In his retirement, Hyde stayed in King City until recently moving to a care facility in Seattle, Wash.
History of the National Order of the Legion of Honor
During the French Revolution, all the order of the kingdom were abolished. It was the wish of Napoleon Bonaparte, the first consul, to create a reward to commend civilians and soldiers regardless of their status in life.
In 1802, a Legion d’Honneur (Legion of Honor) was established as the first modern order of merit. The Legion was open to individuals of all ranks and professions.
The order is France’s highest award and is conferred upon men and women, either French citizens or foreign nationals, for outstanding achievements in military or civilian life.
The order has five classes: Grand-Croix (Grand Cross), Grand Officier (Grand Officer), Commandeur (Commander), Officier (Officer) and Chevalier (Knight). Hyde was bestowed to the rank of Chevalier in the Legion of Honor.
Steve Chaney contributed to this story.