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 April 24, 2015

News: More than $1 billion in U.S. emergency reconstruction aid goes missing in Afghanistan - A total of $1.3 billion that the Pentagon shipped to its force commanders in Afghanistan between 2004 and 2014 for the most critical reconstruction projects can’t be accounted for by the Defense Department, 60 percent of all such spending under an...
 
 

News Briefs April 24, 2015

German defense minister: widely used rifle has no future A widely used assault rifle has “no future” with the German military in its current form, Germany’s defense minister said April 22, escalating a dispute over the weapon’s alleged shortcomings. Ursula von der Leyen said last month that a study showed the G36 rifle has a...
 
 
Army photograph

Composites key to tougher, lighter armaments

Army photograph XM-360 test firing at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., in 2007, is shown. The Army is on the cusp of revolutionizing materials that go into armament construction, making for stronger, lighter and more durable weapo...
 

 

Northrop Grumman signs long-term agreement with Raytheon

Northrop Grumman has entered a long-term agreement with Raytheon to supply its LN-200 Inertial Measurement Unit for Raytheon optical targeting systems. The long-term agreement with Raytheon’s Space and Airborne Systems business extends through 2018. The LN-200 provides camera stabilization on optical targeting systems that conduct long-range surveillance and target acquisition for various...
 
 

NTTR supports first F-35B integration into USMC’s weapons school exercise

The Nevada Test and Training Range was part of history April 21, when four U.S. Marine Corps-assigned F-35B Lightning IIs participated in its first Marine Corps’ Final Exercise of the Weapons and Tactics Instructor course on the NTTR’s ranges. The Final Exercise, or FINEX, is the capstone event to the U.S. Marine Corps Marine Aviation...
 
 
AAR-Textron

AAR awarded new contract from Bell Helicopter Textron to support T64 engines

AAR announced April 22 that Bell Helicopter Textron Inc. awarded its Defense Systems & Logistics business unit a contract providing warehouse and logistics services in support of upgrading T64 engines for the Bell V-280 Val...
 




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>