Written by the
Commander of the American Legion, Post #5 of Nice, France
in his yearly report of 1984
from Joseph Tucci.
|Aug 15th – A
group of Legionaries with colors and caps accompanied the 517th on their
all-day tour commemorating the 40th anniversary of the liberation of this
area. There were four large bus loads of 517th Paratroopers and their
families plus about 35 US military vehicles belonging to Alain Fine and
Louis Mazzioline, a group which were smartly dressed in combat fatigues.
The vehicles were decked out with French and American flags and some of
them were equipped with sirens so as to dress and whoop up the occasion.
There were very impressive and emotional ceremonies at Le Dramont, Square,
St Raphael, Draguignan, and Le Muy where we visited a beautiful large
estate which centuries ago was the property of a Roman Catholic Pope and
now belongs to a French Baron. We were invited to a sumptuous reception
and were served some wonderful wines from his vineyards. It was indeed a
long and wonderful day. The undersigned left his home at 0600 hours and
did not return until 2200 hours.
One of the most interesting and emotional events during this very memorable week occurred on 16 August. It perhaps can best be summarized as follows: Sometime in July our Post had been contacted by Floyd Polk, a 517th Paratrooper who had lost his right leg a few days after his outfit had liberated Sospel. His desire was fourfold,  to locate a certain individual who had treated him royally right after the liberation of Sospel but before his unfortunate loss of leg,  to personally spend a day in Sospel carefully visiting the rugged terrain in the Col de Braus where his outfit had engaged in fierce battle,  to locate the place where he lost his leg, and  to retrieve pieces of shrapnel as souvenirs from Hill 1098. We contacted Alain Fine who maintains a supply of US Army World War II vehicles and combat equipment in excellent shape and he graciously agreed to assist us. As a result of our contact with the Mayor of Sospel, they were able to determine that the individual [Mr Aggnetti] whom Floyd Polk was looking for had died but his brother would be most happy to meet Mr Polk. Early the morning of 16 August Mr and Mrs Polk, Alain Fine, and his friend Louis Mazzollini, and myself proceeded in a command car with a mine detector in our possession. We tried to traverse the exact route which Floyd Polk and his outfit had passed by foot with full packs and gear 40 years ago. We passed St Roch’s hospital in Nice where Floyds leg had apparently been amputated. We then proceeded into the rugged hills above Sospel. It was unbelievably remarkable to note how well Floyds memory was of every nook and corner he had fought in 40 years ago: likewise how capable he was of getting around that rugged terrain with his one leg. We were successful in locating  an important site where Floyd and his outfit had fought and slept in foxholes and  an important machine gun position that had been established to hold off the enemy. He had pictures taken at the site 40 years ago that attested to the correctness of our find; this in spite of the 40 years lapse of time involved. Obviously there has been very little if any change in that part of the world since that time. Likewise with the aid of the detector and otherwise we were successful in finding a lot of shrapnel which Floyd greatly cherished. Furthermore with the aid of the Mayor of Sospel and some of the older natives in the community we were able to locate the hotel where Floyd had stayed for a couple of days right after the liberation of Sospel. We were then later able to find the location where Floyd had lost his leg and in which five of his buddies were killed and several wounded when the inn they were billeted in was completely demolished from a delayed action time bomb. A new inn very similar in style and appearance as the original [with the exception that it is one storey lower] now stands in its place. Floyd met the owner and after going through the rooms, indicated that it was practically the same as the one blown up 40 years ago. It was indeed a most emotional experience for all of us, particularly Floyd. It is most difficult to find adequate words to describe such emotion. The nearest similarity I can think of to describe Floyd’s emotion when he had located the exact area where he had fought and slept and was now running around in and over the place with one leg [in and out of the areas of the foxholes] is that it was somewhat reminiscent of the joys and emotion of a child at one of his first Christmas mornings. That is, of course, with the exception that such emotional joy was intermingled with much sadness because of the great losses that occurred 40 years ago.
Later that day the Mayor of Sospel, Mr Gianotti, and his adjoint, Mr Domerego graciously entertained all of our group plus certain other distinguished natives of Sospel [including Mr Aggnetti] to a wonderful luncheon with all the trimmings including Franco/American flags setting on the tables. It was indeed a fantastic day and one that will always be remembered.
Aug 16th – At the initiative of Marius Tappia, President of Union National Paratroopers we contacted Dr Charles Pugh and arrangements were made for a wreath laying and vin d’honor ceremonies given by Anne-Marie Dupuy, Maire de Cannes, in honor of the 517th Parachutist Regimental Team Ass’n at the Monument aux Morts and the Hotel de Ville du Conseil at 1900 hours. Several Legionnaires attended these ceremonies.
Aug 17th – We accompanied the 517th group to
commemorating exercises at Roquebrune cap Martin and Sospel. We awarded
the Legion Bronze Medal of Merit to Mayor Giannotti of Sospel for his
contributions to the Franco/American cause.
Floyd Polk, 517th Paratrooper, Medal of Valor
Ted Lobur, 517th Paratrooper, Bronze Medal of Merit
Alain Fine, Bronze Medal of Merit
Louis Mazzollini, Medal of Merit