Written by Frederic Sanchez and Eric Renoux
Bonjour from Southern France!
Today, after spending a weekend in the footsteps of 551PIB paratroopers, we can say “a big thank you”, and bow down to so much bravery to all these veterans. The mountains rise steeply around these villages, at the sight, and under the shots of the Germans. The battalion helped liberate our region, France, and all of Europe.
We loved seeing, accompanying, receiving them at home, listen to their story, learn what this great generation has done for us. Listen to the story of the 551PIB, not through the books, but by the words of the veterans, we were touched, by the story, and the tragic end of the battalion. “They” and it is the veterans who speak is called “the forgotten battalion” or “the lost battalion”! We remember the immense relief of veterans when in the year 2000, the battalion was decorated with the “Presidential Unit Citation” We had the immense honor of meeting them during their stays in Europe. My Belgian and French friends helped me in this “Memory Duty” Even if my English is not good, it’s the language of the heart that allowed me to communicate with veterans for a long year.
Next year, we will be present for the ceremony of the 75th anniversary of the landing of Provence (Operation Dragoon), to wear the colors of the 551PIB. We hope that many families and friends of the 551 will attend. The schedule as of now is listed below.
12 Aug – Monday Arrival
13 Aug – Tuesday
10:00 a.m. Le Muy (paratrooper jump)
6:00 p.m. BBQ/Party in LeMuy
14 Aug – Wednesday
10:00 a.m. Le Mitan ceremonies
2:00 p.m. Memorial service at Chateau Valbourges
6:00 p.m. Mock combat attack at Le Muy
8:00 p.m. Town square party at La Motte
15 Aug – Thursday Operation Dragoon 75th Anniversary Day
8:30 a.m. St. Tropez – 509th monument ceremonies
11:00 a.m. St. Maxime beachfront road parade
1:00 p.m. St. Maxime lunch party
6:00 p.m. Les Arcs ceremonies
8:00 p.m. Les Arcs concert/party
16 Aug – Friday
8:30 a.m. Chateau Valbourges ceremony
9:30 a.m. Draguignan US military cemetery ceremony
11:00 a.m. Valbourges lunch party
5:00 p.m. Trans en Provence ceremonies
6:00 p.m. Trans en Provence town square party
9:00 p.m. Le Muy fireworks party, ABC combat demonstration
17 Aug – Saturday
TBD Ceremony at St Martin -Vesubie
18 Aug – Sunday Depart for NCE and flight to US
If anyone is interested in traveling to Southern France for these ceremonies please email firstname.lastname@example.org. If there are enough people interested in attending we will work on a group trip to include air-travel and accommodations.