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Former member of the 36th EWS, WWII vet, awarded French Legion of Honor

Photo of Ostler and his B-17 crew in 1943

Courtesy photo. Ostler (center, hand on at map, facing camera) with the B-17 crew of “Little Willie” in 1943.

Courtesy photo of James P. Ostler. Date unknown.

Courtesy photo of James P. Ostler. Date unknown.

ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. --

James P. Ostler, age 99, a former member of the 36th Bombardment Squadron, was awarded the Legion of Honor Medal from France in a November 21, 2019 Ceremony in Arlington Heights, Ill. for his efforts in WWII as a navigator on the B-17.

Ostler, who flew 25 combat missions in Normandy, Northern France, Ardennes, Rhineland and Air Offensive Europe, and even more B-17 special counterintelligence missions, was previously awarded the American Distinguished Flying Cross and the British Distinguished Flying Cross.

In his most notable mission, Ostler and his crew tested a new radar-jamming technology that is credited with saving countless lives on D-Day. During testing, his plane lost an engine, but they continued the mission, knowing its importance.

The ceremony had more than 150 attendees and Hon. Guillaume Lacroix, Consul General of France to the Midwest presented the French Legion of Honor.

"What you did sir, as part of America's greatest generation, for us is a debt that we owe you ... and a debt that we cannot repay," said Lacroix.

In addition to the Legion of Honor, Ostler’s record is added to the permanent archives of the 36th Electronic Warfare Squadron, the descendent of the 36th Bombardment Squadron.

Maj. Jenny Ji from the 36th Electronic Warfare Squadron, was at the ceremony to present Ostler and his family with a gift and a letter representing his addition to the 36th's historical archive.

“I never felt I was part of anything special,” said Ostler to the local paper. “You never felt like you were doing anything heroic. I’m a survivor.”