U.S. soldiers who died at French village honored
Place settings for six Americans who died while fighting to liberate a French village during World War II are illuminated by candles Saturday at an event in Hagerstown honoring them. (By Ric Dugan/Staff Photographer)
Who knows what six young Americans were feeling on Aug. 17, 1944, as they walked along a cobblestone road in Louge-sur-Maire, France.
Fighting to liberate the area, they suddenly came under German fire and were killed.
Although 67 years have passed since that summer day, the six Army soldiers never have been forgotten — not by the villagers who still consider them heroes. Not by their families who still feel the pain.
Those who knew and loved them say the men would be reluctant to dwell on their bravery.
First Lt. Jason Barron of Pennsylvania; Staff Sgt. Levy Guidry of Louisiana; Pfc. Arthur Adell Hudson of Tennessee; Pfc. Michael Koepl of Wisconsin; Pfc. Jessie Price of Texas; and Pvt. David Williams of Indiana probably would tell you they were just doing what was expected of them, relatives believe.
But to people such as Roger Bignon, their sacrifices during World War II never will be forgotten.
Bignon has lived his entire life in the farmhouse that stands within 330 yards of where the six soldiers were killed.
Today, a small stone marker honors those men and is cared for by the Frenchman and others, who decorate it with flowers and an American flag.
As a 9-year-old, Bignon remembers hearing the gunfire and a large blast on that fateful August day.
He later learned of the death of the Americans — most barely out of their teens — who were fighting to free France from German occupation.
Evidence of the conflict was found in the helmet of 1st Lt. Jason Barron, which had a small hole on one side. The helmet, bearing the soldier's name and identification number, had been discovered by villager Roger Pillu, who stored it in his home with the hope of one day being able to return it to the man's family.
That day came several years ago, with the help of modern technology known as the Internet.
Following an exhibition of artifacts from World War II that included Barron's helmet, Pillu had given the helmet to his neighbor Bignon, who asked friends for help in searching for any surviving relatives of Barron's.
Eventually, the sleuths tracked down Linda Barron Heinrich of Halfway, daughter of Emerson Barron, Jason's brother.
Heinrich then began a mission of locating relatives of the other soldiers who died with her uncle. Jason Barron is the only one buried in France.
She eventually located each soldier's family.
Last year, Emerson Barron, Linda Heinrich, her husband, Brian, and several other relatives joined Joan Eymard, the sister of Levy Guidry to reclaim the helmet.
While there, they participated in a ceremony honoring the deceased soldiers.