74th D DAY COMMEMORATION IN SAINTE MERE EGLISE REPORT
To Our U.S. AVA Friends,
This 74th D-Day commemoration was a complete success for the events which we organised.
Starting with the May 30th : dinner for soldiers with local families. Much appreciation must be given to Any Saint Martin, our AVA board member, who, through hard work and organization, succeeded to gather nearly 130 invitations from neighborhood families who were eager to host our visiting US military. This annual tradition is deeply meaningful and helps to carry on understanding of our history together.
May 31st : Large crowds attended the ceremonies and speeches during the wreath laying commemorations organized by the AVA at the Airborne and Alexandre Renaud Monuments on the Square.
The speeches by General Scaparotti, supreme commander of Allied Forces in Europe-NATO, MG Kurilla CG 82nd, and Mayor Jean Quetier will soon be posted on our site www.avanormandy.org
The priest of Sainte Mere Eglise performed the Memorial Service at the church in cooperation with the 82nd ABN Chaplain and with the assistance of the local Gabarre chorus and the AA chorus. It was very moving to listen to the American National Anthem sang in French by the Marie sisters.
The 82nd ABN honor guard was part of all these ceremonies.
A cocktail party at the city hall for the AVA members marked the end of this busy afternoon. The Ladies for Liberty from Louisville Kentucky, the AA chorus, and a Dutch band entertained.
June 2nd BANQUET OF LIBERTY : Over 800 people attended and it was very well received. It was certainly the most succesful banquet in the whole area and made for an unforgettable evening.
The 82nd honor guard brought the flags in which was the signal to start. A US Army band played the national anthems of USA, United Kingdom and France.
Honorary attendees : US Veterans and one British Veteran paratrooper who is 97 years old.
Attending also : 65 82nd ABN men, 55 Rangers, 18 from US forces in Germany
36 French paratroopers.
VIPs : Mrs Susan Eisenhower, Mrs Helen Patton, Mrs Chloe Gavin Beatty,
Mrs Denise Rohan and Mrs Diane Duscheck, respectively National Commander and National Auxiliary President of the American Legion.
US Generals : Scaparotti, Supreme Commander of Allied forces in Europe NATO; Cavoli, Commanding US Forces in Europe; Kurilla Commanding the 82nd ABN in Fort Bragg plus several other generals.
French Generals : Parlanti, General de Corps d Armée. Collet, Commanding the 11th Brigade Parachutiste. Tramond, retired.
A large groupe of local mayors and elected politicians including Mr Marc Lefevre President of the Conseil Departemental of la Manche and of the Airborne museum. We had people coming from all over France, USA, United Kingdom, Holland, Belgium and Germany.
We did present a gift from our association to MG Kurilla ; a sculpture of a parachute made in metal by one of our board members with the following inscription on the base :
TO THE MEN OF THE 82ND ABN – WE WILL NEVER FORGET
AVA ASSOCIATION – SAINTE MERE EGLISE
An outstanding gift for the US Generals was received from an unknown person who is a pastry chef in the Loire Valley. Entirely made of chocolate it displayed a white parachute and the coat of arms of the AA and the 101st Quite a job !
The show was excellent with the AA chorus, the Ladies for Liberty and the Dutch jazz band.
The buffet made by Mrs Mouchel was top. Gilbert Osmond, a VP board member, did a great job with all his team to organize this banquet.
Every year this banquet is a demonstration of Franco American friendship, I should add of a great French and US military friendship. And it still goes strong 74 years later !! Too bad US medias never mentioned it.
I wish to mention that the Airborne museum and the Materne group from New York (with a plant in Chef du Pont) sponsored our banquet. This is a great financial help for our association. Without their support, considering the number of non paying guests, we would be in the red. The fact is that we charge a low price for what we deliver so that all who wish to can attend.
Next year the date of the banquet will be FRIDAY JUNE 7th. We already have many reservations and we will have to limit to 1000 people. The price will be 28 euros for the AVA members and 35 for the non members. On SUNDAY JUNE 9th La Fiere ceremonies and Parachute drop. Be sure to make your reservations early for the 75th before it is sold out!
Sunday June 3rd : Unfortunately, a bronchitis kept me away from these ceremonies. However thanks to incredibly beautiful weather (the priest must be somehow responsible for that !!), the parachute drop at La Fiere went very well ; with mainly American paratroopers, French and even Romanian participation. No serious injuries reported. A huge crowd watching. Tens of thousands.
The official ceremony at our Paratroopers Memorial site at La Fiére was spectacular according to what was reported to me.
Speeches were delivered by General Scaparotti, Mrs Denise Rohan, M. Marc Lefèvre and the Mayor Jean Quetier (text available on www.avanormandy.org)
The 82nd Honor guard, US, French and German troops took part in this meaningful and spectacular ceremony. About 20 wreaths were laid at Iron Mike.
The parade of the troops and the vintage military vehicles received a fantastic triumph from the crowd in the streets of Sainte Mere Eglise. There were as many if not more people as for the 70th D Day .
The fame of Sainte Mere Eglise in France and abroad is intact.
Sainte Mere Eglise is THE ICONIC TOWN for the American paratroopers.
If you were not able to attend this 74th I hope you will join us for the 75th
Will it be the last big commemoration ? I hope not.
In all friendship,
P S : Program 2019
June 6th 16h00 Memorial service
June 7th 19h00 Banquet of Liberty
June 9th All day La Fiére parachute drop and ceremonies