De Gaulle of it! French government stiffing American GIs for D-Day anniversary

Need another reason to hate France?

American GIs who waded ashore under fire Normandy almost 70 years ago are being left high and dry as the anniversary of D-Day approaches – thanks to the French government’s refusal to pay for the now-elderly heroes to get back to the country they freed.

Photo: Discovery France didn't mind it when American GIs came ashore back in 1944.
Photo: Discovery
France didn’t mind it when American GIs came ashore back in 1944.

And that’s after the French Embassy in Washington had made assurances the fares would be paid for, a spokesman for Rep. Michael Grimm, R-N.Y., told the New York Post.

“Our chief-of-staff heard it from the French Embassy in DC — that they would be flown out to France,” said Grimm spokesman Nick Iacono.

Mais non! say the French.

“The French government never offered to pay for the plane tickets of the veterans traveling to France for the 70th commemoration of D-Day,” French Embassy spokeswoman Dana Purcarescu told the Post.

So much for the thanks of a grateful nation — that would be speaking German today if it weren’t for the American fighting man of 1944.

Some of those men and their families had been operating under the assumption that the French government would foot the bill for the travel fare – as it did for the 60th anniversary.

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“France was supposed to pay for our airfare, hotel and transportation,” one vet’s daughter, Theresa Tarangelo, told the Post. “Now they’re telling us they have nothing to do with it …  It’s really frustrating.”

Another vet, Felice John Tulli, is supposed to get the Legion of Honor at a ceremony led by President Obama and French President Francois Hollande. France will pay for his in-country lodging, but he’s on his own to actually get there. His daughter is organizing a Memorial Day baseball betting pool to raise the money, the Post reported.

The clock is ticking. In all, about 73,000 American stormed the beaches on the fateful day that turned the tide of World War II in Europe. There can’t be many left alive 70 years later, there will be fewer still for the 75th anniversary — and no more than a handful will be around for the 80th anniversary, if that.

Conservatives generally don’t like spending government money if it’s not necessary, but this might not be a bad cause for the U.S. government to take up. Too bad the optional travel budget got blown in Hawaii and China this year.

Joe Saunders

Joe Saunders, a 25-year newspaper veteran, is a staff writer and editor for BizPac Review who lives in Tallahassee and covers capital and Florida politics. Email Joe at [email protected].

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