BEAUFORT — The highest honor given by France is being awarded to a South Carolina World War II vet who died in December.

The Beaufort Gazette reports that the Legion of Honor will be bestowed on James Leach during a ceremony next month. The honor was created by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1802.

The award marks Leach’s contributions to the liberation of France during World War II.

Leach was a colonel in a tank battalion that fought its way across France after D-Day, liberating villages and towns. He received the Purple Heart five times for injuries and received a Distinguished Service Cross. He died at age 87.

Three other World War II veterans from the Southeast will receive the Legion of Honor during a ceremony in Georgia on Sept. 1.