Ecouves Forest Memorial Rededication Ceremony 22 June 2012

11:00Am: The French Air Force Honor Guard is in place

11:10Am: Arriving of veterans

11:15Am: Beginning of the ceremony.

Chief of honor guard : Garde à vous

                                    Présentez Armes

French Air Force Officer, President of the 317th Veterans Group and Mayor of St Nicolas des Bois review the honor guard.

Chief of honor guard : Reposez Armes


Bill       Good morning ladies and gentleman, I am Bill Lloyd, President of the 317th Veterans Group.

At this time, I would like to recognize and thank several special guests in attendance today:

French Air Force Lt. Col. Termeniere, Deputy Commander Anjou Squadron representing Colonel Vincent SEVERIN, Commander of Evreux AFB

Mr Gérard LEMOINE Mayor of Saint Nicolas des Bois

Mr. Lionel HUCHETTE, Director of the local National Forest Office

The family members of the 13 Airmen and 2 Soldiers being honored today

Col Patrice Le MAO, French Air Force Ret. Chairman of our reunion and his 2 assistants: Mr Marc PICHARD and Mr Bertrand SAILLARD.

Mr. Jean-Marie FOUBERT, author of the book "Ecouves, la belle au bois dormant".


On behalf of the 317th veterans of Evreux Air Base, welcome to this ceremony.  We are here to re-dedicate this memorial in honor of 13 Airmen and 2 Soldiers that paid the ultimate sacrifice for their country; our husbands, fathers, brothers, colleagues and friends.

Patrice           Au nom des vétérans du 317th Group de la base aérienne d'Evreux, je vous souhaite la bienvenue à cette cérémonie.  Nous sommes ici pour nous recueillir devant ce mémorial construit en l'honneur de 13 aviateurs et de 2 soldats qui ont payé l'ultime sacrifice pour leur pays ; ils étaient nos maris, nos pères, nos frères, nos collègues ou nos amis.

The events that resulted in our being here today started many years ago and involved many people.  I had asked Patrice Le Mao to research if he could find any information about a reported memorial to a 1962 aircraft crash located in a forest near Alencon.  It wasn’t until 2008 when Major Jean Claude Leroux of the French Air Force at Evreux Air Base discovered the memorial while hiking here and gave Patrice Le Mao a map of its location.  Several months later Patrice, Jean Zabukovec, Don Connor and myself visited the memorial using the Major’s map.  Patrice brought cleaning supplies and we cleaned the memorial.  This was probably the first visit by veterans in decades.

Notre présence ici aujourd'hui est due à une suite d'évènements qui remontent à plusieurs années et qui ont impliqués plusieurs personnes. J'avais demandé à Patrice LE MAO s'il pouvait trouver des informations sur un monument qui aurait été construit dans une forêt proche de la ville d'Alençon à la mémoire d'un accident aérien survenu à un C130 de la base aérienne en 1962. Ce n'est qu'en 2008 que le commandant Jean Claude LEROUX de l'armée de l'air Française découvrit le monument caché dans la forêt d'Ecouves. Quelques mois après, Patrice, Jean ZABUKOVEC, Don CONNORS et moi-même nous rendions au monument grâce à une carte fournie par le commandant LEROUX. C'était certainement la première visite de vétérans depuis des dizaines d'années.

After that ensued a project to learn the history of the memorial.  We found out that under French law, any memorial located on Government land required a lease of the land.  Thanks to the assistance of Mr. HUCHETTE, Director of the local Office of the National Forest, we found out the lease contract had expired over 10 years ago.  However, the forest department, out of respect, still maintained the area keeping it free of shrubs and encroaching trees.  Thanks to Commander Carl Hale, (American Legion Paris Post 1), General Charles Wilson, Patrice Le Mao and Mr. HUCHETTE we now have a 9 year lease contract.

A la suite de cette visite, nous avons recherché l'historique de ce monument. Nous avons découvert que selon les lois françaises, tout monument se situant dans une forêt domaniale devait disposer d'un contrat de location de la terre sur laquelle il est situé. Grace à Mr HUCHETTE de l'Office National des Forêts, nous avons retrouvé les baux successifs mais le dernier de ceux-ci avait expiré plus de 10 ans plus tôt. Malgré tout, en respect des personnes disparues, l'Office National des Forêts avait continué à maintenir l'environnement du monument en bon état. Grace à Carl HALE, commandant de l'American Legion Post 1 à Paris et au général Charles WILSON nous avons maintenant un bail de 9 années.

After the story came out about the memorial, one of our members said that he was on the all volunteer group from the base that constructed the memorial.  He said they placed a piece of the aircraft with its serial number in the cement base.  What he remembers most is the local French people that came and visited them daily with fresh bread, wine and cheese.

A la suite de l'information qui a été diffusée au sujet du monument sur notre site internet, un de nos membres nous appris qu'il faisait partie du groupe de volontaires de la base qui ont construit ce monument. Il nous raconta qu'ils avaient placé un morceau de l'avion avec son numéro de série dans le béton de celui-ci. Ce qu'il se rappelle le mieux aujourd'hui c'est que les français des alentours leur rendaient visite en leur apportant du pain frais, du fromage et du vin.

I contacted the Air Force Historical Agency and asked them to research the memorial and resolve ownership.  They could find no mention of the memorial in any of the 317th or 322nd Air Division records.  Since the 317th Veterans Group paid the lease, I believe we, the veterans, now have the responsibility.

J'ai contacté l'agence des monuments historiques de l'armée de l'air américaine pour rechercher des informations sur ce monument et résoudre le problème du bail pour la location de son emplacement. Malheureusement, ils n'ont retrouvé aucune mention de ce monument, que ce soit dans les archives du 317th group comme dans celles de la 322 Air Division. Depuis que le 317th veterans group à payé le nouveau bail, je crois que dorénavant les vétérans en ont la responsabilité.

Why was the memorial erected here, at the crash site?  This crash occurred in March and 2 months later another aircraft from the same squadron crashed in Kenya with no survivors.  After the Kenya crash, I can only assume that the squadron decided to honor these deceased with a memorial because they could, as they were mourning the loss of so many friends in such a short time. (Construction started a year after the crash.)                        40th TCS.

Pourquoi ce monument a-t-il été construit ici à l'emplacement exact du crash de l'avion ? Cet accident est survenu seulement 2 mois après un autre accident de C130 du même escadron au Kenya. Je peux seulement supposer que l'escadron a voulu les honorer dans la profonde peine qui les unissait après tant de pertes dans un si court espace de temps.

What started out as a routine mission ended here, and those we are honoring today paid the ultimate sacrifice defending freedom for the United States and its allies.

Ce qui a commencé comme une simple mission d'entrainement s'est terminé tragiquement ici. Ceux que nous honorons aujourd'hui ont payé en un ultime sacrifice le prix de la défense des Etats-Unis d'Amérique et de ses alliés.

I would like to introduce you to Mrs. Patricia McRae, the daughter of Major William Wilson Jr.  Ms. McRae was asked to represent the families of those we are honoring today.  She was 11 years old living on the Air Base with the family at the time of the crash.  Ms. McRae, if you would come forward and say a few words.

J'aimerai maintenant vous présenter Madame Patricia McRae, la fille du commandant William Wilson Jr. Madame McRae représente les familles de ceux que nous honorons aujourd'hui. Elle avait 11 ans et vivait sur la base aérienne à l'époque de la tragédie. Madame McRae va maintenant vous dire quelques mots.

Je ne traduirai pas le discours de Madame McRae, car ce n'est pas un discours officiel, c'est une lettre d'une fille à son père, une véritable lettre d'amour. Il est des mots que l'on ne peut pas traduire, mais l'émotion le fera pour moi et je suis sûr que vous comprendrez.

Patricia          Bonjour Mesdames, bonjour Messieurs. This is a day the Lord hath made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it!

What an incredible journey this has been! I am here, you are here, and I believe that they are here. Fifteen souls who slipped the bounds of earth and touched the face of God on March 8, 1962—50 years, 5 decades, some 18,250 days ago!

I am speaking on behalf of all the surviving family members that were not able to make this journey, as well as for Steve Hardin and Jo Lynn, son and former wife of 1st Lt. Stanley Hardin, who are with us today. I want to thank the Evreux French military base personnel, the Alencon National forest staff, the Evreux community leadership, and the 317th Veterans group for making this day such a special tribute. And a personal thank you to Patrice Le Mao and Bill Lloyd for all the work it took to find and contact surviving family members after so many years. And importantly, I would not have been able to make this journey to take part in this once in a lifetime opportunity, if it had not been for the blessings of good health and the love, insistence, generosity, and support of mon mari, David McRae.

I can’t begin to tell you how amazed and touched I was that day in early December 2011 to have a phone message from Mr. Bill Lloyd, trying to reach the daughter of Major William James Wilson, Jr. He called regarding plans to dedicate the Evreux C130 crash site, on its 50th anniversary. It was a startling moment, a spiritual moment, as though my father were reaching out to me at this time, helping me to reconnect to memories of friends and places past, and rekindling my love for this beautiful country of France.

I was 11 years old and my sister Ann was 8 years old when my father was killed. It abruptly changed our lives and the course of our lives. During all the years that have followed, we learned almost nothing about the circumstances of the crash. Probably all the surviving families have wished we knew what happened that fateful day to end this C-130 crew’s story.  My mother passed away in 2005, without knowing about the original placement of the memorial. Over the past few months since being notified of this event, I have learned of the incredible kindness and determination of so many people who made it their mission to locate the crash site, to find the memorial in 2008, and to plan this rededication in 2012. Merci, merci, merci!

Now we find ourselves here in this special place where earth and heaven are coming together! To remember those whose lives were cut so short and to memorialize those lives that served their country, their communities, and their families so unselfishly, both in times of war and in peace. These heaven connected spirits passed through this world to make a difference in all of our lives. The world IS different because they lived AND because we survived. We have honored them over the years in countless personal ways. And today, we also must recognize the surviving family members themselves who loved them, keeping their memories alive, raising their children, and all finding the strength to go on with their own lives.  We have all been united in spirit and heart these 50 years!

Nature has provided us with a beautiful and quiet place to reflect on how important the support of our military family was then and still is, and how these 15 men, our families, and our friends have shaped and gifted our lives with meaning in the 50 years that have followed.

So today, it is with gratitude and grace that we come here, to be with them in spirit:

In the rising of the sun and in its going down,

   We remember them.

In the blowing of the wind and in the chill of winter,

   We remember them.

In the opening of the buds and in the rebirth of spring,

   We remember them.

In the blueness of the sky and in the warmth of summer,

   We remember them.

In the rustling of leaves and in the beauty of autumn,

   We remember them.

In the beginning of the year and when it ends,

   We remember them.

When we are weary and in need of strength,

   We remember them.

When we are lost or sick at heart,

   We remember them.

When we have joys we yearn to share,

   We remember them.

So long as we live, they too shall live,

   For they are now a part of us, as

   We remember them.

Bill       Thank you Patti, well done

I know all of you share my belief that preserving the 317th Airlift Group heritage is not only a responsibility, it is our tremendous privilege.  With the rededication of this memorial to our husbands, fathers, colleagues and friends, we have made another contribution to that heritage.  They will not be forgotten.

We shall not fail those with whom we served. 

Please stand

Chief of honor guard : Garde à vous

                                    Présentez Armes

Would the family members come forward and place the wreath at the memorial.

The family members place the wreath, they return to their place.

Mayor places wreath for the village

Col. Places wreath for French Air Force

I will now read the names of the Airmen and Soldiers we are honoring.

Major William J. Wilson Jr.

Captain Edward J. Vianco

Captain Vincent A. Santucci

First Lieutenant Stanley C. Hardin

First Lieutenant James S. Douglass

Technical Sergeant Robert L. Conway

Tech Sergeant Harold E. Kazee

Staff Sergeant Alfred J. Knight

Airman First Class Cecil Williams

Airman First Class Theodore J. Shedelbower

Airman First Class Huey K. Green

Airman Second Class Stanley E. Royster

Airman Third Class Gayle J. O’Grady

Specialist Fourth Class James E. Waples

Specialist Fourth Class Lee R. Taylor

Chief of honor guard : Aux morts


Minute of silence

National anthems

Chief of honor guard : Reposez Armes


That concludes today’s ceremony, thank you for making the long journey and being here today.

French Air Force Officer, Mayor of Saint Nicolas des Bois and Bill Lloyd thank the honor guard.