1er REC: A longest-serving active member of the French Armed Forces left the Foreign Legion after 44 years of service

In November 2023, Brigadier-chief Manuel Da Costa left the French Foreign Legion, reaching the age limit of 62 years for an active soldier. With 44 years of service, this senior corporal was the longest-serving active member not only of the Legion, but also of the entire French Armed Forces.

Of Portuguese origin, Manuel Da Costa joined the Foreign Legion on November 2, 1979, when he was 18 years old. After basic training, he was assigned to the 1st Foreign Cavalry Regiment (1er REC) and did not leave until the end of last year. During his career, he was deployed many times on short-term missions (MCD) and overseas operations (OPEX). According to him, these were unforgettable moments, despite the sometimes difficult conditions. In 1988, he obtained the French nationality and got married. Nicknamed “Papy”, Brigadier-chief Manuel Da Costa served as a personal driver for many of the last commanding officers of the regiment. After 44 years, he left the 1er REC and the Foreign Legion, which he has never ceased to serve with honor and fidelity, according to her motto.

1er REC - Foreign Legion - Brigadier-chief Manuel Da Costa - 2017
In 2017, Brigadier-chief Manuel Da Costa was the last member of the 1er REC to meet personally with the long-time godmother of the regiment, Countess Leila du Luart (who died in 1985). Note that at the time, he wore seven chevrons of seniority, each representing five years in the Legion. This is one of the exceptional Legion traditions.
1er REC - Foreign Legion - Brigadier-chief Manuel Da Costa - 2020s
Brigadier-chief Manuel Da Costa as a personal driver of the 1er REC commanding officer during their deployment to Lebanon, most likely in 2022. Note the blue beret of the UN peacekeeping forces.

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History of the 1st Foreign Cavalry Regiment