France Honors World War II U.S. Aviators

Guided-missile cruiser USS Hue City (CG 66) departed Cannes, France July 7, after a four-day port visit highlighted by a special ceremony honoring the heroics of World War II U.S. aviators

The ceremony, which coincided with Independence Day in the U.S., paid tribute to the air crew of a B-24 dive bomber that was downed near Cannes.

Hue City Sailors performed as part of the color guard for the ceremony and 13 other Hue City crew members were in attendance to salute the bravery that took place.

La Croix des Garde, the memorial site of the crashed B-24 Liberator and where the crash occurred, was the backdrop for the ceremony. The actual wrecked engines and propellers of the dive bomber were in view as remarks were made. The site was dedicated 17 years ago, July 4, 1994.

“This memorial reminds us of our two nations’ ties and that preserving freedom does not come without a cost,” said Rear Adm. John Sadler, commander of Naval Air Force Reserve and deputy commander Naval Air Forces, who delivered remarks at the ceremony. “And our nations’ friendship and commitment to each other continues. Let us be thankful that we live in two nations in which we continue to have generation-after-generation of service members who believe so strongly in our nations’ core values and ideals that they are willing to sacrifice for them.”

The B-24 Liberator, call sign “Strictly from Hunger,” took on German gunfire after a bombing run on a German communications center May 25, 1944. The plane blew an engine and subsequently caught fire as a result of the gunfire. The B-24’s pilot, Capt. Robert Hornbaker, was killed in action. The rest of the crew bailed out on orders from the co-pilot, though only three members of the crew survived the jumpand then also being prisoners of war.

“These guys paid the ultimate sacrifice while serving their country and for us to be here today on this day remembering them makes me proud to be parading the colors paying tribute to them”, said Logistic Specialist 1st Class (SW/AW) Marcus Johnson, a Hue City Sailor.

Following the ceremony honoring the B-24 crew, Hue City hosted a reception on the ship. The reception was attended by representatives of the U.S. Navy League’s French Riviera-Monaco Council and other dignitaries.

At the conclusion of the port visit, Hue City Commanding Officer, Capt. Daniel B. Uhls, met with Chantal Azemar-Morandini, deputy mayor of Cannes for Military Affairs, and local officials to thank them for the hospitality displayed during Hue City’s port call to Cannes.

“This was an exceptionally rewarding experience to honor the crew of Strictly from Hunger and to reassure our relationship with France,” said Uhls.We have shared a common cause and common ideals for a long time and will continue to do so, in order that we can preserve the freedom that so many fought for.”

Hue City is on a regularly scheduled deployment in support of maritime security operations and theater Security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th and 6th Fleet areas of responsibility. Hue City is deployed as part of Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group (CSG), which includes CSG 8, USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69), guided-missile destroyers USS Farragut (DDG 99), USS Winston S. Churchill (DDG 81), and USS Jason Dunham (DDG 109), the seven squadrons of Carrier Air Wing 7, and Destroyer Squadron 28.

Naval Today Staff, July 10, 2012