WWII veterans from Santa Ynez Valley receive France’s highest honor

Posted at 11:25 AM, Jul 19, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-19 14:25:55-04

Two local veterans received international recognition on Wednesday. They were presented with France’s highest honors for their time in World War II. 

Rutledge Mills and John Wright were both bestowed the National Order of The Legion of Honor in rank of Chevalier (Knight).

A general from France traveled to Solvang to present them with the prestigious award.
France’s governor says they both displayed extreme acts of courage during the war.

Technician Fifth Grade Rutledge A. Mills served in Europe with the U.S. Army’s 331st Field Artillery Battalion in General Patton’s 3rd Army as an aircraft mechanic. He saw action in central Europe and Northern France supporting the Battle of the Bugle. Rutledge was later deployed to the Philippines for battlefield clean-up actions until the Japanese surrendered.

Technician Fifth Grade John E. Wright arrived in France in July 1944 as a heavy truck driver with the 482nd Engineer Maintenance Company whose duties were building and maintaining 8th Air Force Air Fields. John saw action in the Normandy, Northern France, 
Rhineland, Ardennes, and Central European campaigns. 

Both men have received conduct medals from around the world and now live on the Central Coast with their families.