Nicole Piaseczny's 2012 Evreux Reunion Report

On June 20th Veterans and their Families gathered at l’Hotel de l’Orme for an orientation meeting led by Bill Lloyd and Colonel Le Mao. In the following days we would be guests of the French Air Force and Friends of the Veterans.

On Thursday a bus took us to the “Base Aerienne 105” where we viewed the raising of the French and American Flags. We took a bus tour of the base and noticed a lot of changes. New buildings are going up to accommodate new arrivals of airmen.

A delicious lunch followed, offered by Colonel Vincent Severin, Commandant of the Base. Then to the delight of everyone, we watched the “Patrouille de France” practicing for the upcoming air show. They are the equivalent of our Air Force Thunderbirds.

Later on we visited an Old Mill. The owners, Eric and Nicole Rouet were our hosts. We were told the story of the mill, visited beautiful grounds and were treated to refreshments. To finish our day we were the guests at “l’usine a Zabu”. Mr. Zabukovec, a well known sculptor and long time friend of the veterans, passed away last year. But his widow, Joelle, invited the veterans for a barbecue at their home in his honor. We all enjoyed the food, drinks and camaraderie. Thank you Joelle, Annie and your helpers for a wonderful evening.

Friday was a somber day as our destination was to the site of a C 130 crash 50 years ago, where all the members on board perished. First we stopped at a World War 2 monument where a wonderful young Frenchman told us in English about the Battle of Normandy. Thank you Amery.

Then we arrived at the site of the crash in the Forest. Wreaths were laid at the base of the monument. Patricia Mc Rae, daughter of the pilot read a poem. Also present was Mrs. Harding and her son. Her husband was part of the crew 50 years ago. It was very emotional for all present as the monument was rededicated with full military honors. The Mayor of the village, the French Honor Guard, a representative of the base and the director of the Forest Department were present. Many villagers who remembered the crash came. Afterwards the Mayor invited everyone for a “vin d’honneur” at town hall. Many thanks to the volunteer drivers who took us to the Forest.

Saturday was the culmination of the reunion. Again we took a bus to the Base. Before another lunch we visited the Chapel, where Colonel Le Mao explained the story of the mural. It was painted by a French soldier stationed in Germany and gifted to the base. We learned an unknown fact for most of us. During the years of the Americans on the base a small village donated their church bell to the Chapel. But being too heavy for the Chapel, it was decided to send it to the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs.

During lunch gifts were exchanged between Colonel Severin and Bill Lloyd. Colonel Severin gave hats to the Veterans, commemorating this special event.

To finish the day we were invited to our private viewing of the planes training for the Air Show, which took place the following day. VIP tickets were issued which gave us access to the deck and refreshments. And what a show!!

It was time to return to our Hotel or other destination. This is the second time we attend a reunion in France and we are never disappointed. We would like to thank Bill Lloyd, Colonel Le Mao, his assistants, Colonel Severin for making it happen. It takes a lot of time and effort to make a reunion a success.

    Nicole Piaseczny