Dear friends of the AVA association,
The 73d D-Day anniversary was a success. Without going into the details of all the ceremonies I will limit my report to the events concerning our association.
TUESDAY MAY 30th
230 US military, mainly 82d ABN, invited to dinner with local families . A big job handled by Michelle Coupey for the AVA.
THURSDAY JUNE 1st
Ceremonies at Memorials Alexandre Renaud and AVA Airborne .
Memorial service at the church.
We were priveleged to get the participation of the 82d ABN Color Guard and the AA chorus. Father Seigneur, the local priest did celebrate the service in coordination with Colonel Griffin chapelain of the 82d ABN. The local chorus performed beautiful songs and the US national anthem was sang in french by two sisters.
Deputy CG 82d Airborne Matt Mac Farlane attended the service and delivered a speech at the Airborne monument ceremony .
Additional speeches were made by major John Gwinn, Jean Quetier mayor of Sainte-Mère and Stephane Voisin his assistant. Several WW2 Veterans attended and were honored.
At 6 pm, our association invited about 200 guests to a cocktail party at the city hall : association members, US military, WW2 veterans, French veterans etc… We were honored with the presence of Mrs Chloe Gavin, General James Gavin's daughter, Mrs Christina Murphy famous WW2 pathfinder Bob Murphy's daughter and General Matt Mc Farlane.
A Dutch jazz group entertained with Glenn Miller songs .
FRIDAY JUNE 2d
Wreath laying at Chef du Pont and to the Memorial of Generals Ridgway and Gavin at the city hall.
SATURDAY JUNE 3rd
11 am opening of the painting exhibit for peace made by school children from Sainte Mere and LocustValley N Y ,sister cities. Exhibit organised by Michelle Coupey and Kaye Weninger president of Operation Democracy.
7 pm : AVA Banquet de la Liberté
720 guests this year. With the Color Guard and the AA chorus of the 82d ABN. A US military band played the national anthems.
It is regrettable that only few WW2 veterans were with us this year as they are so important to us.Among many VIPs attending : Mrs Chloe Gavin, Mrs Helen Patton, granddaughter of General Patton, US Consul Sara Harriger, General Scaparotti ,supreme commander in chief of Allied Forces in Europe ,MG Poppas CG 101st Division, National Commander C.Schmidt and the National President M. Davis of the American Legion from Indianapolis with a delegation of 15 members ,Generals Mc Guire , Moore and Goddard, and historian Colonel K. Nightingale.
On the French side : Mr Jean Quetier with several mayors from the area,Mr Philippe Gosselin congressman,Mr Marc Lefevre president of the Airborne museum,Mr Claude Gatignol,honorary congessman. A delegation of Dutch and German military did represent their country.
About 30 members of the WW2 museum of New Orleans joined us.
The buffet was remarkable and the ambiance great with the retro jazz band.
SUNDAY JUNE 4th
La Fière : massive parachute drop ( about 500 ) with 6 C 130 and 2 C 47 planes. Many different units were involved including the 82d,101st and French and US special Forces.
A crowd of about 20 to 30.000 watched the drop.
WW2 veterans present received multiple testimonies of gratitude and respect from the people.
In the afternoon on our Memorial site a large official ceremony took place. With a parade involving 82d ABN, French and German soldiers. A honor guard was provided by Saint Cyr, the French counterpart of West Point.
We unveiled 2 plaques : one in honor of the men of the 507th PIR of the 82dABN for their heroic actions during the battle of La Fière and in other places in Normandy,
The second one to make official the agreement between the American Legion, the city of Sainte-Mère-Eglise and our association for the preservation of this Memorial site.
General Scaparotti, Mr Jean Quetier, Mr C .Schmidt National Commander and Mr Maurice Renaud made speeches paying tribute to the heroism of the American paratroopers during the battle of La Fière.
Followed a parade in the streets of Sainte Mere Eglise of the military units cheered by thousands of spectators.
A GREAT DAY FOR AMERICA
MONDAY JUNE 5th
Wreaths laying at ceremonies in Amfreville and Sainte-Mère-Eglise
TUESDAY JUNE 6th
Wreath laying at former cemeterry NO 1 memorial.
Official ceremony at Utah Beach to conclude.
SPECIAL THANKS TO :
- Mr Marc Lefevre ,president of the Airborne museum, for his financial support to our association.
- BG Kurilla CG 82d ABN, for allowing his men to participate actively in the events organised by the AVA association and to Major John Gwinn his liaison officer for giving us a great assistance during these busy days.
- The members of the association who worked very hard to make these historic days a great success.
We hope to see you in June 2018 !
President Friends of American Veterans association – AVA