BROKEN ARROW, Okla. — Jim Tygart's war story began on D-Day, when he drove his waterproofed Jeep off his landing craft into the water. He submerged it completely, and drove it right up on to Omaha Beach.
More than 75 years later, Tygart was honored for his heroism fighting through France with the French Legion of Honor. 145 people packed the Military History Center in Broken Arrow for the ceremony, and Tygart couldn't believe it.
"I had no idea there was going to be this many people here today to celebrate my being in the service," Tygart said. "I'm humbled beyond words by all the people that's in here."
To this day, Tygart hasn't forgotten all the friends he fought with - especially the ones who didn't make it back home. When he accepted his medal, he did so on behalf of all of them as well.
"So many people didn't make it, my friends didn't make it," Tygart said. "But I did, and I didn't know if I should have been the one to make it or not."
Throughout the war, Tygart would move in close to enemy lines and send information back to his fellow troops. He fought in the Battle of the Bulge, where he was hit by shrapnel from tank fire. It ended his service in the war, but he made it home, earning a Purple Heart.
"I was able to go through that, and come out of it, I have a lot of dreams at night about whether I was going to make it or not. But I did," Tygart said.
The French Legion of Honor is the highest honor in France. The honor comes as an early birthday present for Tygart, who turns 100 in March.
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