2015 Evreux Reunion

The 317th veterans and their families that made the trip to Evreux received 5 days of unbelievable friendship and welcome from the people of Evreux and the Airmen of 2 different French Air Force Bases.  A great time was had by all and each day was jam packed with activities


The trip to Orleans Air Base was very interesting.  The base was started in the 30’s by the French AF, bombed by the Germans in 1940 and then rebuilt by the German AF for its use.  Then it was bombed by the Americans.  After the war it was rebuilt and is now a modern air base supporting transport missions along with Evreux Air Base, the only 2 transport aircraft bases in France. 

The A400M Atlas is a very impressive aircraft.  Its size is somewhere between a C-130 and a C-17.  The 8 bladed counter-rotating props (the pair of props on each wing turn in opposite directions) are a sight to see on start up.  The Base Commander gave a presentation on the mission of the base with the A400M Squadron and the C-130 Squadron.  The base is very busy.


At Evreux Air Base the veterans attended an awards ceremony on the parade ground with a formation of all the base personnel.  Four Airmen were awarded medals for their actions In the Mali operations.  A flag raising ceremony was held in front of the Headquarters with a wreath laying at the memorial dedicated in 2004 to the 317th Airmen that lost their lives in the line of duty while stationed at Evreux.  Gayle Lacy, daughter of Capt. Edward Vianco, killed in the 1962 aircraft crash, the Base Commander and Bill Lloyd laid the wreath.


There was a bus tour of the base including a visit to a C-160 and the Tactical Communications and Radar Squadrons.  These squadrons are in a new very large building located where the trailer park was.  Mission briefings were given and a display of the tactical radar systems was visited.

The Base Commander then hosted all the veterans for lunch in the old Officer’s Club, followed by a visit to the Base Museum in the same facility.  The Base Museum continues to expand their collection with a section for each period of the base.  The 317th section is very extensive.  Bruce Maine donated many photos and Combat Cargo newspapers along with the official photos of many of the 317th Base Commanders.


The Victory in Europe National Holiday started at City Hall.  Six veterans rode in a convoy of WWII jeeps lead by the Mayor in the first jeep from City Hall through the city to the Evreux Cemetery.  At the cemetery Bill Lloyd and a French WWII veteran laid a wreath at the entrance to the WWII military section of the cemetery.  Airmen and soldiers from England, New Zealand, and Australia are interred in this section with their unit and date of death on the headstones.  With presentation of arms by the French AF Honor Guard, taps was played.  The large group then moved to the main entrance where there are monuments to the war dead and city officials laid multiple wreaths at the monuments.


After speeches at the City Hall Plaza, the National Anthems of France and the US were sung by a 150 person choir.  Lunch with the Mayor and many dignitaries followed in City Hall.


The veterans were then driven to the Evreux-Navarre Horse Race Track.  The last three races of the day were the Grand Prix of the 317th Veterans Group, Grand Prix of the City of Evreux and the Grand Prix of Base Aerienne 105 (Evreux Air Base).  Bill Lloyd presented the 317th Veterans Group trophy to the winner of the 317th race.  The Mayor of Evreux and Col. Feola presented their trophies to the respective winners.


That was the end of the official program for the veterans but the celebrations in the city continued all weekend.  The WWII encampment with over 50 WWII vehicles was very busy manned by French members of a Normandy Association dressed in US Army WWII uniforms.  Some of the veterans went back to the base on Saturday to escort a large group of Evreux citizens that were given a special tour of the base.  The Museum, a C-160 and an Air France DC-3 were visited.


The veterans, with their 317th hats, shirts and jackets, had their photos taken with French families many, many times!