Veterans

May 9, 2014

French village memorializes U.S. World War II aircrew

Tags:
TSgt. Benjamin Wilson
Ramstein AB, Germany

The people of Avord, France, dedicated a memorial May 8, 2014, honoring the crew of a U.S. B-17 Flying Fortress shot down during World War II. The B-17, nicknamed the Georgia Rebel II, crashed at about noon, April 28, 1944, on a mission bombing a Nazi German-occupied airfield, Avord Air Base, located in the middle of France.

The people of Avord, France, dedicated a memorial May 8 honoring the crew of a U.S. B-17 Flying Fortress shot down during World War II.

The B-17, nicknamed the Georgia Rebel II, crashed at about 12:00 p.m. April 28, 1944, on a mission to bomb a Nazi German-occupied airfield, Avord Air Base, France.

“For some of us it is very important to remember these young guys,” said Frederic Henoff, event organizer. “Like me, when I go for the first time in the U.S., I don’t know this big country and these young guys are from the middle of the U.S., some poor farmers’ sons and they came for the first time over the ocean in another country and they were killed for us – for freedom – it’s very important.”

Seven of the crew members were killed during the raid and the three who survived became prisoners of war. Family members from three of the crew members attended the ceremony, including 2nd Lt. and navigator Arthur Guertin’s sister, Marie Lukacs-Buchannan, and her daughter, Ann Lukacs.

“It is so humbling and we are so grateful for the French to actually be doing this ceremony,” said Lukacs. “I mean, it means a lot that after 70 years they would even still remember and care enough to honor the seven of them that were killed in the plane.”

During the war, Guertin’s family received notification that he was missing in action shortly after the mission, in May 1944. The family was notified by telegram that he was confirmed as killed in action on New Year’s Eve that year.

Lukacs said her mother, who is now 92, took the news especially hard because the two were extremely close siblings.

“He was the brother that always looked out for her and, you know, they had this special bond.”

The news also came as a shock because the family had dealt with a similar situation during the war, which had a much different outcome.

“I think the thing that was deceiving for the family was that he had been MIA (missing in action) once before when he was in Sweden,” said Lukacs. “He had just been reunited with his squadron after being in Sweden for eight months and a month later this mission happened.”

2nd Lt. Arthur L. Guertin, navigator – killed in action – is pictured. The people of Avord, France, dedicated a memorial May 8, 2014, honoring the crew of a U.S. B-17 Flying Fortress shot down during World War II. The B-17, nicknamed the Georgia Rebel II, crashed at about 12:00 p.m. April 28, 1944, on a mission bombing a Nazi German-occupied airfield, Avord Air Base, located in the middle of France.

The dedication ceremony included a church service, wreath-laying ceremonies, an exhibition on the 1944 bombardments, and dinner. The local community, French air force, and U.S. Air Force had representatives in attendance.

“I was extremely honored to represent the United States Air Force to the family and to see the emotional impact it had on them to have a U.S. representative,” said Col. Robert Huston, U.S. Air Force representative at the event. “It made it that much more special and reminded me just how much of an honor it is to represent our country and our Air Force when I get a chance.”

Henoff expressed the importance of this ceremony and memorial for him and the Avord community.

“When you see the white crosses in the American cemetery, I have tears in my eyes,” said Henoff. “When you look at the birth date, it’s just young men. It’s very important for us to remember these guys, not only for me, for many, many people in France.”

The crew of the Georgia Rebel II consisted of:

  • 1st Lt. Harold F. Henslin, pilot – killed in action
  • Maj. Osce V. Jones, co-pilot – survived, POW
  • 2nd Lt. Arthur L. Guertin, navigator – killed in action
  • 1st Lt. Eugene Arning, bombardier – killed in action
  • Tech. Sgt. Jo. R. Karr, engineer – killed in action
  • Tech. Sgt. J. W. Padgett, radio operator – survived, POW
  • Staff Sgt. George B. McLaughlin, ball turret gunner – killed in action
  • Staff Sgt. Clarence T. Williams, right waist gunner – killed in action
  • Sgt. William B. Blackmon, Jr., left waist gunner – survived, POW
  • Staff Sgt. Edward H. Sell, tail gunner – killed in action



All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 

Headlines July 28, 2014

News: U.S. has lost track of weapons given to Afghanistan - The United States supplied almost three quarter of a million weapons to Afghanistan’s army and police since 2004, but the military cannot track where many of those arms have gone, a new report found. Bill to improve VA has $17 billion price tag - A bipartisan...
 
 

News Briefs July 28, 2014

Marines seek authorization for dolphin deaths The Marine Corps is asking for a five-year authorization from the National Marine Fisheries Service for incidental deaths of bottlenose dolphins during training exercises at a bombing and target range. The Sun Journal of New Bern, N.C., reports that Connie Barclay of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says...
 
 
Army photograph by David Vergun

Senior leaders explain Army’s drawdown plan

Army photograph by David Vergun No commander is happy when notified that a soldier from his or her command has been identified for early separation. But commanders personally notify those Soldiers and ensure participation in th...
 

 

Northrop Grumman awarded mission support services contract

The U.S. Army awarded Northrop Grumman a cost-plus-fixed-fee contract, with a potential value of $205 million, to continue providing mission logistics services in support of combat brigades training at the National Training Center in Fort Irwin, Calif. The contract covers one base year and two one-year options. Support will include the full range of mission...
 
 
Lockheed Martin photograph by Beth Groom

F-35 Rollout Marks U.S.-Australia Partnership Milestone

Lockheed Martin photograph by Beth Groom Royal Australian Air Force Air Marshal Geoff Brown delivers his remarks at the roll out ceremony for Australia’s first F-35. The official rollout of the first two F-35 Lightning II...
 
 
NASA/JPL-Caltech image

NASA’s Mars spacecraft maneuvers to prepare for close comet flyby

NASA/JPL-Caltech image This graphic depicts the orbit of comet C/2013 A1 Siding Spring as it swings around the sun in 2014. On Oct. 19, the comet will have a very close pass at Mars. Its nucleus will miss Mars by about 82,000 m...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>