Paul Greenberg

The sergeant would leave Korea with a Distinguished Service Cross for "extraordinary heroism" during a battle for a key hill during which his rifle was shot away from him. That didn't prevent him from using grenades to wipe out five of the enemy's gun emplacements.

Over the course of a military career that would include action in the European theater during the Second World War as well as the Korean Conflict, he would also earn Silver and Bronze Stars.

The general who was first given command of the 65th Infantry Regiment in Korea had hesitated to accept it. He'd heard it was just a "rum and Coca-Cola outfit" from Puerto Rico. He soon learned better thanks to men like Sgt. Cartagena. Some 3,800 members of the 65th would be killed or wounded in Korea. Soon enough the general would conclude that the men in his command were "the best damn soldiers in that war." Modesto Cartagena was one of the best of the best.

Andrée Peel, 105, has died in the English village of Long Ashton outside Bristol, but when France fell in the crushing spring of 1940, she was Andrée Virot, and running a beauty salon in Brest. France had been conquered, but not Mlle. Virot. She started her own war by circulating an underground newspaper--journalism always was a subversive trade--and soon graduated to the Resistance. As Agent Rose, she kept track of German shipping in the harbor and troop movements in Brittany. Soon she was escorting downed Allied airmen to safety, 102 of them before she was caught.

The mademoiselle would be arrested shortly after D-Day, the Sixth of June, 1944, with the usual, predictable consequences: imprisonment, torture, deportation to a concentration camp. First Ravensbruck, then Buchenwald, where she was due to be shot just before the Americans arrived like the U.S. Cavalry just in the nick of time in April of 1945.

Andrée Virot would live to make good on a wartime vow: to offer thanks for her survival at Sacre-Coeur in Montmarte. It was in Paris that she would meet her English husband. Mr. Peel lived till 2003, and she celebrated her 105th birthday February 3, wearing all 11 of her decorations from various countries, including the Medal of Freedom from the United States, and the King's Commendation for Brave Conduct from Great Britain. It was quite a birthday party. She sang the Marseillaise and, asked for a comment by the press, replied: "You don't know what freedom is if you have never lost it."


Paul Greenberg

Pulitzer Prize-winning Paul Greenberg, one of the most respected and honored commentators in America, is the editorial page editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.