BY BRUCE BRANUM
The Greenville Standard
John G. Little, Jr., a native son of Greenville, was recently decorated with the Legion of Honor, which is France’s highest merit.
On Monday, March 18, Little was presented the merit during a ceremony at Fort Rucker by the Consul General of France in Atlanta.
The Legion of Honor is bestowed on French citizens as well as foreign nationals who have served France or the ideals it upholds, including individuals who contributed to the country professionally as well as veterans who risked their lives in World War II fighting on French soil.
Some of the best-known American recipients of the Legion of Honor include Generals Dwight D. Eisenhower and Douglas MacArthur, and, as an institution, the United States Military Academy at West Point.
Colin MacGuire, also a Greenville native and Little’s nephew, attended the event. “This is like getting the Medal of Honor in the United States, so being honored like this by a foreign country is great, and I mean it just blows my mind and this is a proud moment in the Little family to say the least.”
Little was born in Greenville on June 10, 1924 to John G. Little, Sr., and his wife Louise Hobbs. He was the eldest child with three younger sisters. He is the grandson of John B. Little who wrote the “History of Butler County, Alabama from 1815 to 1885,” which was published in 1885.
John G. Little was a founding member of The Butler County Historical Society in 1964 and served a term as president.
He graduated high school in May 1942. Little’s autobiography states, “While I was in high school, I was in the band and boy scouts. I played bugle and trombone. That is how I became a bugler in my unit, D Battery, 547th AAA Battalion.”
In the fall of 1942, Little attended the University of Alabama under the ROTC program. Just before Christmas of that year he was drafted into the army.
He was assigned to the 547th Anti-Aircraft Artillery Automatic Weapons Battalion and was made the company bugler and messenger for ‘D’ Battery.
He spent 18 months training in Southern California at Camp Haan before being shipped overseas to join the 95th Infantry Division in Normandy, France. He also spent time at Camp Irwin, Camp Ibis, and Murock, which is called Sheppard’s Air Force Base now.
In Europe he participated in the Lorraine, Central Europe and Rhineland campaigns. In the Lorraine Campaign he helped liberate Metz, France under the command of General George Patton.
In World War II he was a private first class and joined the Army Reserve before returning to Greenville. He went back to the University of Alabama and graduated in 1950.
He joined the Alabama Army National Guard after college and served for 36 years, rising to the rank of major.
After college, Little came back to Greenville to work at his father’s sewing factory. In 1953, he married Tera Cook; they had two children, John Little III and Phyllis.
In 1954, Little began working for the U.S. Postal Service in Greenville. He retired as postmaster in 1980.
He made four trips to France and visited World War II sites in 1990, 2005, 2006, and 2009.
In 2017, his wife Tera passed away. Little now lives in Dothan near his daughter.