The American Legion, the City of Ste. Mere-Eglise, France and Amis Des Veterans Americains (AVA) recently signed an agreement to protect the La Fiere Memorial site in Normandy, France. The agreement requires consent from all three parties to never change the site. The American Legion National Executive Committee passed a resolution during the May 2016 Spring Meetings to sign the accord with the AVA, which owns the property, and the City of Ste. Mere-Eglise, which maintains it. Signing for the AVA Sunday was Maurice Renaud, the association’s president and a childhood witness to the airborne assault.
About the La Fiere Memorial
La Fière Memorial Park is Approximately 4 km outside of the town center of Sainte-Mère-Eglise. The La Fière bridge over the Merderet River was a key objective of the 82nd Airborne Division. Taking the bridge protected the western entrance to Sainte-Mère-Eglise from a German counterattack on the men coming up from the invasion beaches. The Germans had flooded the fields near the bridge and only the road was above water and the Americans dug in the best they could from the advancing Germans. There was fierce fighting as the Germans attacked with both infantry and armor but were stopped by two American bazooka teams and the Germans were stopped and could not cross the bridge. “A” Company of the 505th PIR held on and were relieved by the 325th Glider Infantry Regiment (GIR). Finally, on June 9, the Americans took permanent control of the bridge and causeway after heavy fighting.
The statue of “Iron Mike” is not of a specific soldier, but is meant to pay tribute to the Americans who lost their lives in this area. There is a similar Iron Mike statue at Ft. Bragg, S.C., home of the 82nd Airborne Division.