The guy in my book is Jacques Baptiste Boudreaux, aka Mad Jack, a hulking, one-time leg breaker for the Marseilles syndicate -- and, not incidentally, a former Legionnaire. Both La Legion and Mad Jack's buckle figure large in the story, so -- a little background...
In the Second World War, Legionnaires fought and died -- for the Legion, be sure about that, not for France -- in Syria and North Africa.
Little known fact: Once in a great while, someone will make it in as an "honorary member." U.S. Army General Norman Schwarzkopf was one.
Postscript: In 1962, (probably after having seen Beau Geste one too many times) I decided I was going to join the French Foreign Legion. It was during my hitchhiking-around-the-country-and-riding-the-rails period, and I jumped off a boxcar in Houston, Texas, made my way to the French Consulate on Post Oak Boulevard and presented myself at the desk of a man who looked like Adolph Menjou. (He wasn't the Consul, of course, just a clerk or something...) I told him I wanted to join the Foreign Legion, and he looked at me like he was wondering if maybe an asylum somewhere was checking their count.
He told me that the Legion didn't exist anymore. Not as far as I was concerned, anyway. Seems that in April of 1961 the 1st Foreign Parachute Regiment had mutinied when French President Charles DeGaulle abandoned the war in Algeria. (The plan was to parachute into Paris, kill DeGaulle, and overthrow the government.) As a result, 1st Para was disbanded, all other regiments in the Legion reduced in force, and new enlistments stopped in their tracks. So... I was politely escorted out, hit the road again, and wound up in other adventures.
The Legion returned to full normal sometime in 1964, though 1st REP will forever be disbanded.