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William Simonoff Receives the French Legion of Honor

William Simonoff Biography

Sergeant William Simonoff, U.S. Army, 97, was born in Pachuca, Mexico in January 1926 into a family of two boys and a girl. He grew up in Los Angeles and attended Garfield High School and Compton College where he completed in football and track.

William was drafted into the U.S. Army in April 1944 at Fort MacArthur, California and after basic training was sent to Fort Knox, Kentucky for training in tank maintenance and driving. He landed at Le Havre, France in January 1945 and was assigned as a replacement tank driver for the 3rd Tank Battalion of General Patton’s 10th Armored Division. He later became tank commander and participated in the battles of Metz, Thionville, Nancy, Strasbourg and the Battle of the Bulge. His campaigns included Rhineland, Ardennes, and Central Europe. Williams was discharged from the Army in February 1945 at Fort MacArthur, California. His significant decorations include the Bronze Star Medal, the EAME Campaign Medal with 3 battle stars, the Presidential Unit Citation, and the World War II Victory Medal.
After the war, during 1946-1978, William started and owned Swift Transportation Company which grew to be the 2nd largest local trucking company in California. In 1978 he founded South Bay Public Warehouse in the 3rd party logistics and transportation business, retiring as President in 2013.

He married Virginia Levine in 1962 and their union last 22 years until her passing in 1984. They had one son, Christopher. William has been married to his current wife Joan Sage since 1990. They live in Rancho Mission Viejo, California and he enjoys philanthropy and playing with his granddaughter, Alexandra.


During the French Revolution, all the orders of the kingdom were abolished. It was the wish of Napoleon, the First Consul, to create a reward to commend civilians and soldiers regardless of their status in life.  In 1802, a Légion d'Honneur, (Legion of Honor) was established as the first modern order of merit. The Légion was open to individuals of all ranks and professions. The order is France’s highest award and is conferred upon men and women, either French citizens or foreign nationals, for outstanding achievements in military or civilian life.

The President of France is the Grand Master of the Order and appoints all other members of the Order — by convention, on the advice of the Government. Its principal officers are the Chancellor and Secretary-General. The order has five classes: Grand-Croix (Grand Cross); Grand Officier (Grand Officer); Commandeur (Commander); Officier (Officer); and Chevalier (Knight).

Awarding of the French Legion of Honor at the French consulate in Los Angeles

William is given a letterman’s jacket that he missed out on receiving in his senior year of high school because he graduated early in order to enlist in the US Army.

William Simonoff – Awarded the French Legion of Honor
March 10, 2023