The top Marine was awarded the French National Order of Merit on Thursday while on a visit to France.

The Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. Robert B. Neller is in France ahead of the centennial of Corps’ hallowed battle at Belleau Wood during World War I.

The French National Order of Merit is awarded for distinguished military or civil achievements to those with a minimum of ten years of service. The Order is second only to the Legion of Honor.

It was established in 1959 with the support of Charles de Gaulle when France attempted to overhaul its decoration system.

The top Marine received the award from French Army Chief, Gen. Jean-Pierre Bosser.

Neller is also in France to award Marine Security Guards, or MSG, at the U.S. embassy in France with the MSG Detachment of the Year award.

Neller will be giving a speech in France to commemorate the Battle of Belleau Wood on Sunday.

Shawn Snow is the senior reporter for Marine Corps Times and a Marine Corps veteran.

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