"NORMANDY 44" ASSOCIATION
90th US DIVISION

Overview

Words from our President

Our Primary Goal

Our Aims

The Statutes

The Official Gazette

Who are we ?

How far are we ?

Jim Clark in Saint Sauveur Lendelin - Photo Bettmann
Jim Clark kissed by citizens of
Saint-Sauveur-Lendelin.
Photo Bettmann

Overview

The NORMANDY 44 - 90th US Division Association was born on some evening of June 1998, more precisely the 23rd, from the will of a few fellows attracted by a project submitted by Henri Levaufre, European representative of the 90th Infantry Division, that American crack unit who liberated Périers on July 27th 1944.

Let's say first that Henri is the one who fully initiated things. In a previously held meeting on February 19th 1998, he had already claimed his wish to :

"Found a society aiming at first to build up a Monument dedicated to the men of the 90th Infantry Division. "

The NORMANDY 44 - 90th US Division Association is aiming to perpetuate the remembrance of the sacrifice of the men of the 90th Division on the European soil during the Second World War, express the gratitude of liberated populations, keep up friendship between France and U.S.A., and manage the welcome of Veterans and their relatives.

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Henri Levaufre, Président de l'AssociationWords from our President

Périers, February 22, 2000

The least one can say is that this column is far from reaching its saturation point. Even if late for a wish, may the year 2000 bring or keep you all the good health and a little of happiness.

Our Internet site, which will receive its 5150th guest today, fills every day more out. We acquired the domain name www.normandy44.com which will allow us to cover other numerous columns, such as researches of persons or of witnesses. For a few months already, we have been looking especially for members of the 508th Fighter Squadron, friends of Lieutenants Bert Espy and Ben Kitchens killed during the collision of their P47s on June 24, 1944 (witness of which I was). We also look for the members of the two bombing missions over Périers on June 8 (BG 409) and June 13 (BG 391) : we have parts of the official archives, but know very few direct witnesses having carried them out.

The efficiency of this Internet site is indisputable ; since August 1999 we have received or emitted more than 800 e-mail messages. Our efforts for research and for answer especially focus on helping Veterans and their families ; may the others forgive us, the Frenchmen in particular, but it is impossible for us to start researches in their place. It is a long-term job, of perseverance, of uncountable working hours that we can not physically assume.

All our attention is today directed on the realization of the Monument which will be unveiled on next Sunday , June 4 at 12:00 AM.

Plaster cast trial bust
Plaster cast trial bust - © P. Cottencin - November 99. Don't search for any resemblance, this is an anonymous study face.
The result of the subscription opened near American and French citizens is exceeding our original wishes. It was as a consequence decided during our General Meeting to give to this memorial another dimension. Four American soldiers of the 90th US Division, killed in action at Périers or in its vicinity on June or July, 1944 are represented in human size. The statue shows Virgil Tangborn, a medic providing help to the wounded Sergeant Andrew Speese, who tries to stand up again. At their sides, soldier Richard Richtman watches and protects them. Behind them, sergeant Tullio Micaloni member of a tank crew is making signs for his platoon of tanks to move. May we remind you, we made all what was possible so that the faces of these people look the same as the real faces of these soldiers killed close to us. Their relatives, who participated in the gathering of the information and photos necessary for these reconstructions will be present at the inauguration. We know that the moment of the unveiling of the Monument will be a time of intense emotion for all and more particularly for these four families.

It also was necessary to pay our tribute to the courage and the sacrifice of the "Prisiaises" women (inhabitants of Périers) who were able to face the new crushing loads daily imposed by the absence of their men during four years, sometimes more.

The estrangement of these husbands or sons, often war prisoners in distant Stalags, sometimes engaged somewhere in the Free Forces, maybe also still lying under the ruins of their house, had left many French families in a deep confusion. So we considered convenient to represent, several meters away from the group of GIs, an overwhelmed with grief woman, sat on a stony heap, vestiges of the walls of her house. Near her, a boy about ten or so, perceiving the Americans tries to escape her mother and to run towards them. This child, the only cheerful element of this composition, will symbolize the Freedom and the Joy to living found again. To the Americans, these "civilians" may also be the mother and the child who vainly wait at their house, for the husband or the Dad who will never return.

You will notice that we did not try to celebrate The War but only to glorify those who suffered from it and immortalize their memory, whoever they were.

The approach of the date of inauguration imposes a follow-up of the potential visitors and invited guests, of their housing, of the preparation of the details of the ceremony which are no more really details. The City of Périers which covers the set of the three days of celebrations has of course its own obligations with another organizations and associations. Everything settles in the greatest friendship but all the problems and they are numerous however have to find their solutions. Some groups work on the housing, others on the program of the ceremonies, others else on the Périers's review from prehistoric times until 2000, through the Middle Age, the French Revolution, the two great wars, the bombings of Périers and the Liberation. The animation of Friday will be the result of a work of teams of local amateurs supported by mature professionals.

So will Périers live three days of celebrations, three days of festivities and of great emotion, the top being the inauguration of the Monument. The sculptor Patrick Cottencin left the neighborhood of Chartres and now works near Paris. Every month we use to visit him and follow the evolution of his work. The monument of the Four Braves will be set up in the last days of May but no definitive picture of it will be shown before its inauguration.

A part of the official invitations is already launched, but we shall announce the list of the coming personalities only after confirmation of their part. The Commander-in-chief of the US Army in Europe let us us hear that he would ensure the presence of a military music and of a guard of honor. Heir of the old 90th Infantry division, the 90th Regional Support Command, at present quartered at Little Rock, Arkansas, will doubtless send a beautiful delegation. The Veterans also and especially will be present, one hundred or so of them have already booked their places ; they are not any more twenty years old but they will come. They will make the journey either in organized group, or separately. Numerous children and grandchildren will accompany them, it will be one of the last occasions for the young people, to hear from the mouth of the grandfather, on the spot, what was the reality of the fights of 44.

In the middle of them, we shall meet the special group made by the families of our Four Braves : Richard, Andrew, Virgil and Tullio, these young men who rest in Colleville's cemetery. Them, they never had the time to realize a life, nor to bring up their children, nor to become old.

Stimulated by good wills, trained by an enthusiastic professor, sixteen pupils from a class of the Périers high school, "adopted" the four families of the soldiers of the Monument and are in permanent contact with them. In June, these young people will display all the information collected from "their" families and will take part in the inauguration.

These days of June 2000 are undoubtly going to mark the life of Périers. You will find their Schedule in our Internet site. It will be updated according to the successful confirmations.

I thank you for your patience and for your kindness.

Henri G. Levaufre, President.
http://www.normandy44.com/


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Our Primary Goal

The primary goal of Association Normandy 44 - 90th US Division is to build in Périers a Commemorative Monument, as a tribute to the American Soldiers of the 90th US Division.

Notre objectif : un monument

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Our Aims

NORMANDY 44 - 90th US Division is aiming to :

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The Statutes

On August 24th 1998 have the statutes been laid at the Sub-Prefecture of Coutances (Manche).

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The Official Gazette

The Association, ruled by the Law of July 1st 1901 (law concerning the setting up of non-profit-making organizations) is registered under Number 0503003297.
It was published in the issue n° 37 of the Official Gazette, dated September 12th 1998.

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