A 91-year-old man has been appointed to the French Legion of Honor for his distinguished service to France in World War II.

Vermont's James Facos flew 30 missions with the Eighth Air Force over France in Germany in 1944 as a ball turret gunner on a B-17 bomber. The ball turret was a cramped sphere that hung below the plane's belly. The gunner squeezed inside and operated two 50-caliber machine guns.

Facos — the father of Montpelier's police chief — says he was startled but pleased to have French President Francois Hollande appoint him a chevalier — or knight — in the Legion of Honor.

He's matter-of-fact about the risks he took, saying he was aware of the possibility he could die, but that defeating the Nazis was more important.