National Communications Officer, DA France



    No Man Left Behind

    Too severely injured by German anti-aircraft fire to save himself, B17 pilot 1st Lieutenant George F. (Frankie) Wilson Jr. of the 601st Bomber Squadron, 398th Bomber Group Heavy, managed to keep his burning plane flying high long enough for his 8-man crew to bail out while on a mission to destroy a German liquid oxygen factory and a rocket launch site in a gigantic bunker in Siracourt, Pas-de-Calais, in northern France. He died as his bomber exploded in a farmer’s field in Monchy-Cayeux, Vallée Blanche. Declared missing in action: an Army Air Corps pilot from Utah. The date was July 8, 1944. He was 23 years old.


    Wilson’s plane was one of the 12 B17s in Bomber Group 601. Photo of the formation.

    Decades passed until July 2018, when Wilson’s great niece Sonni Bornemeier and her husband, Air Force Sergeant Erik Bornemeier, were on a humanitarian mission. Having been influenced by the TV series Band of Brothers, they decided to look for the legendary great-uncle ‘Frankie’ and contacted Pierre Vion, a journalist running an online newspaper near the crash site area.

    Sonni had heard very little about her grandmother’s brother, just that he was a pilot who died during WWII. Erik, who had newly declassified military records and maps showing crew names, destination, objective and location, left home in Utah and went to Monchy-Cayeux to start exploring the crash site of the great-uncle’s B-17 bomber. Erik was a natural for the job, as he himself was head of a search and rescue team in Davis County, Utah.

    The journalist Pierre Vion had written a series of articles about the crash in his newspaper, Le Gobelin de Ternois and called for witnesses on social media. The response was strong and immediate. There were also reports from the crew members. The first one to bail out was Sergeant Ferguson, the only crew member not captured. He was found by a French lieutenant, Arthur Festive, who arranged for him to be taken out of France by the British on September 8, 1944. The other crew members were captured by the Germans upon landing and held as POWs until the end of the war, when all returned home to the US.







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  • Memorial Day - Honoring the Fallen

    Honoring the Fallen: Laying Wreaths… LEST WE FORGET

    Monday, May 31st was Memorial Day. An Action Hour co-sponsored by DAF Grenoble, Marseilles, Brittany, the DAF Veterans and Military Families (VMF) Caucus and DA France gave US veterans and military family members of DA France and DA Germany an opportunity to tell their stories and say who they would like to honor and remember on this day. Another Action Hour item was calling Senators and Representatives to ask them to urge the VA to provide vaccinations for veterans living abroad.

    Sunday, May 30th. Laying wreaths for Memorial Day was different this year. There were no public gatherings at the ABMC cemeteries in France except at Suresnes (photo left) and the Lafayette Monument (photo right) but DA France was still able to honor the men and women who lost their lives during WWl and WWll.  


    Wreaths were sent for the limited-attendance ceremonies around France performed by the cemetery staff at: the Belleau Wood, Oise-Aisne, Meuse-Argonne, St. James, Epinal and Colleville-sur-Mer. The Toulouse Chapter laid wreaths to honor two OSS Commandos downed during WWII in the Tarn.

    Rebecca White, Treasurer DAF Toulouse, Tarn

    To further mark Memorial Day, DAF VMF Caucus members joined the American Legion Paris Post 1 at the Mausoleum in Neuilly-sur-Seine and attended the dedication ceremony to celebrate the recent reopening of Pershing Hall.


    Pershing Hall Dedication Ceremony                                      American Legion Mausoleum, Neuilly-sur-Seine

    After the ceremonies, wreaths were placed on graves of the African American, Asian American, Native American and Jewish communities. At Belleau Wood and Oise-Aisne cemeteries, two very learned guide-staffers gave the DAF VMF caucus representatives a lively, instructive, historical tour. Wreaths were laid on the grave of an African-American soldier from the Pioneer Infantry at Belleau Wood and a Native American at Oise-Aisne. At Suresnes, Tilly Gaillard placed the wreath on the grave of a Polish Jew who had joined the American Red Cross during WW1.

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Media & Marketing expert, Wellesley College Alumna, Florida voter, in France since 1987