Here are some notes and information on six somewhat famous and somewhat obscure former members of the Foreign Legion. The names are Norman Kerry, LeRoy Prinz, Fred Fisher, Ruediger Richter, Algernon Sartoris and a Private H. Levenkron.
Norman Kerry was a very popular silent-era movie star who actually starred in the 1928 movie “The Foreign Legion”. By the time “talkies” took over the movie industry Kerry had already semi-retired to southern France but when WW2 began he joined the Foreign Legion (probably the 11REI or the 12REI) and served for a while in N. Africa and later along the Maginot Line. He wrote an interesting article about this time and I found a copy you can read here “I Saw the Fall of France“.
Here is an extensive article on LeRoy Prinz that appeared in the Saturday Evening Post that alludes to Prinz already being in the Foreign Legion before WW1 with a couple of years service in North Africa before heading to France and joining the French aviation units and subsequently the aviation squadron of Eddie Rickenbacker. LeRoy Prinz SEP 19490430
A really interesting character is German Ruediger Richter who, at 17 years old, joined the Foreign Legion after WW2 under the name of Horst Timm and served for five years in Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia. He emigrated to the United States in 1964 and then two years later, due to boredom, joined the U.S. Army’s 173rd Airborne Brigade and promptly found himself in Vietnam. The rest is history. Richter is the man looking up to the helicopter in the first iconic photograph below.
Algernon Sartoris was the grandson of U.S. President Ulysses S. Grant. His father was an English singer who married Grants daughter Ellen (Nellie). When the First World War began he rushed to join the first American volunteers of the Foreign Legion. He didn’t have far to go as he was married to a French woman and was living in France at the time. Sartoris was already a military man who attained the rank of Captain and served as an aide to General Fitzhugh Lee during the Spanish American War before getting out of the Army in 1903 and serving as a diplomat until 1909. I’m not sure how long he was in the Legion but it was probably not long given his existing poor health and age.
Finally we have an obscure Legionnaire, a Private H. Levenkron, who’s name appeared in a long forgotten copy of the Army Times from 06 November 1943, who fought in both the Spanish Foreign Legion and the French Foreign Legion. An American stranded in Germany at age 18 without money he decided to join the Tercio de Extranjeros and fought in the Riff War with both the Spanish and later the French Foreign Legion. Levenkron is one of many names that appeared in the Army Times that highlight the Foreign Legion experience of Soldiers serving in the U.S. Armed Forces. (I’ll have to post more of these at a later date.)