June 7, 2014

The Ceremony of 7 June was celebrating the entry of The SNAFU Special into a small circle of the airplanes classified as an Historical Monument in France.

For this occasion, Sally and Suzie Harper, daughters of Lieutenant James P. Harper and Eugene M. Noble, former pilot in the same 95th Troop Carrier Squadron, crossed the Atlantic with their families to join all the public present on this special occasion.

After the French, British and American anthems were played by the French Air Force Band, Olivier Paz, Mayor of Merville-Franceville, Chairman of the Battery Museum and Honorary President of Merville-Dakota Association presented the SNAFU Special history, restoration and the 'historical monument' classification process with Max Armanet, President of the French flying club patrimony commission.

Then, General Mercier, Chief of Staff of the Air Force presented the 'Legion d'Honneur' award to Eugene Noble, veteran of 95th TCS 440th TCG, who three times flew the Snafu Special. Very moved, Gene Noble told us he’d never expected such a tribute from the French State.

Then followed the speeches of Sally and Suzy Harper -Daughters of Lieutenant James P. Harper, who flew The SNAFU Special during WWII particularly during the night of 5,6 june 1944, Brigadier General James P. Scanlan –Commander of the 440th Airlift Wing, General Mercier and Mr Mark Taplin –charge d’affaires a.i. at the US Embassy in Paris.

After giving an ovation to the 9th Battalion Veterans who took part in the assault on the Merville Battery during the night of 5-6 June and to Gene Noble, the public saw an air show with commentary by Gerard Duval, a former Concorde pilot. 5 DC-3/C-47 from the Round Canopy Parachuting Team opened the flypast over the battery, followed by 4 USAF C-130 Hercules – the lead plane from the 95th Squadron nicknamed “The SNAFU Special II” and had the 9X painted on the fuselage for the occasion- then the French C-130 Hercules and C-160 Transall. They made several low altitude fly-pasts to the delight of the visitors.

Everyone was able afterwards to admire the Zoulou team’s unbelievable job as these model aircraft nuts are building a quarter-size SNAFU Special model, nicknamed “the little SNAFU”. They promise it will fly next year.

It was a beautiful morning celebration, with a mixture of solemnity, emotion, show and conviviality.

The Speeches
Speech by Sally HarperSpeech by Suzie HarperSpeech by James P. Scanlan
CO 440th Airlift Wing
Speech by Mark A. Taplin
Chargé d'Affaires - U.S Embassy

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