by James Spellman, Jr.
Space and Missile Systems Center Public Affairs
12/4/2015 - LOS ANGELES AIR FORCE BASE, El Segundo, Calif. -- Seventy-one years
after their service in the U.S. Army Air Forces, identical twin
brothers and retired Air Force Reserve Majors Raymond "Glenn" Clanin and
Russell "Lynn" Clanin are recipients of the French government's highest
distinction for their military service as World War II veterans, The
Legion of Honor medal.
During an intimate awards ceremony held Dec. 2 with family and friends
at the Gordon Conference Center in the Schriever Space Complex of the
Space and Missile Systems Center, the brothers were honored by Maj. Gen.
Robert D. McMurry, Jr., SMC vice commander and Christophe Lemoine,
Consul General of France in Los Angeles.
"On behalf of Los Angeles Air Force Base, I'm particularly proud for our
ability to host this event. The Legion of Honor has been bestowed upon
quite a number of World War II veterans. It's a reminder of the service
that they performed and a reminder of the ties that we have between our
countries that go back to the Revolutionary War with our first ally,"
"We have here two identical twins who married twins. At times, piloted
the same aircraft, "Flak Bait," which currently is being restored by the
Smithsonian, and today, over seventy years later, they are getting
identical medals...which seems appropriate to me," McMurry added. "We're
proud to be a part of the ceremony."
Both Clanin brothers flew the Glenn L. Martin Aircraft Company's B-26
Marauder named "Flak Bait" on several missions with the 449th
Bombardment Squadron, 322nd Bomb Group, known as "The Annihilators,"
while stationed in Beauvais, France. Glenn completed 26 missions while
Lynn completed 21 missions in the twin-engine medium bomber.
"Flak Bait" completed 207 operational missions: 202 bombing runs and
five decoy runs, representing the largest number of operational missions
of any American aircraft during World War II. The aircraft is on
display in the Mary Baker Engen Restoration Hangar at the Steven F.
Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Va.
"Attending a ceremony for the Legion of Honor is always a very special
moment and always a very touching moment. It's even more special and
even more touching today because we honor two brothers that have been
tied together all their lives and that are with us together today," said
Lemoine. "It is also a special moment because of the times after the
attacks in Paris makes us think that we should really not forget the
achievement of these men for democracy, which is still something we have
to fight for."
"So it's a very special day for me as the consul general of France in
Los Angeles, because I'm here to express the gratitude of the people of
France to all Americans and allied veterans of the Second World War and
especially, two exceptional people, Raymond "Glenn" Clanin and Russell
"Lynn" Clanin. As young men, they left their homes to fight and liberate
not only France, but the whole European continent and defend democracy
and human rights," said Lemoine.
After the war, Lynn moved to California and in 1948 married his wife
Elyn in a joint ceremony with his brother Glenn who married Elyn's
sister, Carolyn. In their civilian lives, the brothers lived next to
each other for 10 years in Manhattan Beach, Calif., working in their dry
cleaning business until the Korean War. At that point, Lynn
transitioned into aircraft manufacturing and in 1960 moved to Concord,
Calif., where he worked in real estate before eventually retiring in
1978 as a service representative from the local water district. He
remained in the Air Force Reserve, retiring as a major in 1983. Lynn and
his late wife Elyn's family include two sons, two grandchildren and
After Lynn moved up north, Glenn worked in the savings and loan industry
where he retired in 1985. He also remained in the Air Force Reserve,
retiring as a major in 1983. Glenn currently serves as Adjutant for
Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 2075 in Hawthorne, Calif. He and his wife
Carolyn still reside in Manhattan Beach and their family includes two
daughters, two grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.
"Their accomplishments during the war are a vibrant reminder of the deep
friendship between the United States and France. A friendship bound in
blood and hardships, ever since the War of Independence. From the
glorious days of Yorktown to the green battlefields of Château-Thierry;
From the beaches of Normandy to the mountains of Afghanistan, our
countries have been fighting together, side by side," Lemoine remarked
to the audience. "And freedom is a gift that doesn't come free. It often
requires determination and sacrifices. And once again, following the
recent terrorist attacks in Paris, we are so very grateful for our
American friends who have shown and continue to show their immense
support and sympathy for the French people and I would like to thank you
all for that."
Turning his attention directly to the 92-year old brothers seated in
front of the audience with the flags of the United States and the French
Republic as a backdrop, Lemoine addressed the two veterans personally.
"Dear gentlemen, the French would never forget that you helped restore
their freedom. Your courage and your dedication is an example to us all.
You're examples of 'The Greatest Generation' which faced the despair
and deprivation of the Great Depression, went on to fight for liberty
and freedom during the Second World War, rebuilt Europe and Japan and
invented a freer and more democratic world after the war. You remind us
that, no matter how great the challenge, it can be met when honest men
and women stand up with determination and courage," said Lemoine.
"You are an inspiration to us all and to the younger generations. Today,
we also honor the memory of your comrades who have made the ultimate
sacrifice. We remember their courage and their devotion in face of
adversity. We remember that they're an unbreakable link in the long
chain of friendship between our two countries. They will forever remain
in our hearts," the consul general exclaimed. "On behalf of the French
government, as well as on behalf of the people of France, I would like
to tell you very sincerely, from the bottom of my heart, thank you.
Thank you for your heroism and thank you for your sacrifice. And now, I
would like to wish a long life to the United States, a long life to the
French-American friendship and, 'Vive la France!'"
Upon the conclusion of the formal presentation, the brothers regaled the
audience with a few remembrances and war stories, notably an extremely
close-up aerial photo of the Eiffel Tower and how they purchased a
camera without any money.
"If you all saw that picture of the Eiffel Tower on the screen, I took
that picture. We were buzzing the Eiffel Tower. I was in the right
pilot's seat," Lynn Clanin sheepishly admitted. "I wouldn't have got
that close to the Eiffel Tower because I didn't really want to go to
jail. But I took the picture!"
"I had contacted a guy that had been over there before, and he told me,
'Don't take money. Take cigarettes. That's the rate of exchange in
Paris!'" Glenn Clanin explained. We loaded the top of our footlocker
full of cigarettes at five cents a carton. When we went to Paris on our
first pass, we took in ten packs of cigarettes with us and we found a
camera shop that was in business. We went into the back room and made a
trade with the guy, ten cartons of cigarettes for a nice camera and ten
rolls of film that we took all those pictures with. We saved a lot of
money that way."
The National Order of the Legion of Honor (French: Ordre national de la Légion d'honneur),
is an order of distinction first established by Napoléon Bonaparte in
May of 1802. It is the highest decoration bestowed in France and is
divided into five categories: Chevalier (Knight), Officier (Officer), Commandeur (Commander), Grand Officier (Grand Officer) and Grand Croix (Grand
Cross). The highest degree of the Order of the Legion of Honor is that
of Grand Master, held by François Gérard Georges Nicolas Hollande, the
current president of the Republic.
Foreign nationals who have served France or the ideals it upholds may
receive a distinction from the Legion of Honor. To be awarded the medal,
a service member must be nominated and had risked their life during
World War II fighting in one of the four main campaigns of the
Liberation of France: Normandy, Provence, Ardennes, or Northern France.
If a nominee meets the required criteria, the file is sent to the Legion
of Honor committee in Paris, via the French Embassy in Washington, D.C.
as well as the French Foreign Affairs ministry. The Legion of Honor
committee approves or rejects the candidate after review of the file.
Those elected are appointed to the rank of Knight of the Legion of Honor, or "Chevalier de Ordre national de la Légion d'honneur."
The award is not presented posthumously. American recipients include
Generals Dwight D. Eisenhower and Douglas MacArthur, Admiral Michael
Mullen and even, as an institution, the United States Military Academy
at West Point. Today, there are approximately 95,000 recipients of the
Legion of Honor.