Manuel Mercedes came to the United States
in a somewhat unusual way. Having served in the Spanish navy, he saw what
Nazi Germany was doing to his country and wanted none of that, so in 1943
he stowed away on a ship bound for New York.
Seventy-three years later, the former
stowaway received the highest award the country of France can bestow on an
individual – the Legion of Honor. He joined nine other area World War II
Veterans who received the medal during a ceremony in Pinellas Park July 14,
France’s Bastille Day.