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Seventieth Anniversary Commemoration

The ceremony was held in the presence of Colonel Christopher Kuester, Commander, 424th Squadron of the airbase, and of Mrs. Cis Spook, in charge of Public Affairs at SHAPE.


At this time of day, 70 years ago, Lieutenant Floyd Addy gave up his life to prevent the community of Wodecq from being hit by his falling plane. The day was Wednesday June 14 and the time was 09:17. At that time the children were in church, preparing for their Communion which was to take place on Pentecost Sunday.


Some hours later, his severely mangled body was taken away by the Germans and buried temporarily at Chièvres airbase. At the end of the war his remains were returned to the American Authorites who arranged for a definitive grave at the cemetery of Margraten, Netherlands, close to the Belgian border and a few kilometres from the city of Visé.


“Giving up his life”. The expression is apt. To give thanks for this brave – or should I say noble – gesture, we will join in a moment of silence later on.


How many Belgian and French cities, towns and villages suffered horror when crew members bailed out of their overflying airplanes as they were ready to crash. Several television channels showed retrospectives of the Normandy beach landing on the 70th anniversary. The pictures are distressing and shocking.


Can we measure how lucky our village of Wodecq has been to stand on the path of a nice and generous fellow of 24 who, far from his home in America where he’d left his young and pregnant wife, came here to offer up his life so that we could gain our liberty?


His example of courage and self-sacrifice is one our younger generation should certainly meditate.


The heroic behavior of this airpilot would have been overlooked, as happened in many other places, if one member of his crew, Sergeant William Cupp, hadn’t described it in a book that was published in the late 1980s and translated by Mrs Yvette Van Quickelberghe who is here today: A Wartime Journey translated as De la Picardie aux camps nazis. The book relates the odyssey of the plane, its crash and the death of its pilot, followed by the wanderings in Belgium, France and Germany of the different crew members, who all managed to return to the USA once the war was over.

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