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The Most Decorated Marine Officer in World War II
How many Marines remember this Marine who had the Courage to challenge the Enemy in his own town of Occupation?
Peter Ortiz (1913-1988) Colonel Ortiz spoke 5 languages fluently and was the most decorated Marine officer in World War II. He served in the O.S.S. and, before that, was the youngest Sergeant in the French Foreign Legion. In 1940, he was wounded and captured by the German invading army, he escaped and joined the U.S. Marines. Parachuting into France, he became a Maquis (French underground) leader in 1944. He frequented a Lyons nightclub to gain information from the German officers who also frequented the popular club.
One night, a German officer d-mned President Roosevelt, then the USA, and finally the Marine Corps. Ortiz then excused himself, went to his apartment and changed into his Marine Corps uniform. Returning to the club, he ordered a round then removed his raincoat and stood there resplendent in full greens and decorations yelling, “A toast to President Roosevelt!” Pointing his pistol at one German officer then another, they emptied their glasses as he ordered another round to toast the USA then the Marine Corps! The Germans again drained their glasses as he backed out leaving his astonished hosts and disappeared into the night.
After the war, Colonel Ortiz worked with director John Ford, also a former OSS member. The films 13 Rue Madeleine (1947) and Operation Secret (1952) were based on his exploits.
GySgt. F. L. Rousseau, USMC Retired