HUNTINGTON - A World War II veteran from Huntington was honored Tuesday by the French government.

Ernest Rosa, 91, was presented with the French Legion of Honor, the highest honor bestowed in France, for his sacrifice and support to the French while serving in the U.S. Army.

"I didn't expect this at all," Rosa said. "You know, it's a big surprise, but I love it and I'm going to cherish it."

The induction came as a surprise to Rosa. It started when his daughter contacted the office of U.S. Rep. Steve Israel (D-Huntington) to get his help in replacing seven awards that Rosa lost during his service more than 70 years ago.

When Israel contacted the French government, he was informed that Rosa's remarkable service made him eligible to receive its top honor. Not only that, but the French deputy consul general wanted to present it to Rosa in person.

"Your bravery and sense of honor in fighting for freedom against the Nazi regime in France and Germany deserves our highest consideration and deepest gratitude," said Deputy Consul General Bernard Faro.

Rosa was joined at the ceremony by his daughter and his wife of 70 years, Isaleen. The couple met while stationed in Tennessee - she was an Army nurse, and he was a soldier.

Rosa served in the Army from 1942 to 1946. All six of his brothers were also WWII veterans.