75 years ago: An elite airborne unit of the Foreign Legion was activated

75 years ago, in France’s North Africa in early July 1948, an airborne unit of the Foreign Legion was officially constituted to take part in the First Indochina War (1946-1954) in Southeast Asia. There, the resolute unit would become a legend, as the very first French airborne battalion lost in combat.

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Lieutenant Colonel Pierre Jeanpierre

On May 29, 1958, during military operations in the Guelma region of Northeastern Algeria, a helicopter hit by rebel fire crashed to the ground. On board, along with the pilot and a mechanic, Lieutenant Colonel Pierre Jeanpierre, a legendary officer of the French Foreign Legion and the head of what was then one of the best units of the French Army. All the three were dead. To this day, Lt. Col. Jeanpierre remains the last high-ranking officer of the Foreign Legion to be killed in action. The following article was written in his memory.

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45th Anniversary of the Battle of Kolwezi

45 years ago, on May 17, 1978, legionnaires of the French Foreign Legion’s 2nd Foreign Parachute Regiment (2e REP) in Corsica were alerted and the next day, they took off in direction of then Zaire in Central Africa. There, on May 19, they jumped over Kolwezi, a mining center in the south of the country. The legionnaires would rescue over 2,000 Europeans captured and held by local rebels…

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Lieutenant Colonel Gabriel Brunet de Sairigné (1913 – 1948)

On March 1, 1948, on the road from Saigon to Dalat in French Indochina, a French military convoy was ambushed by the Viet Minh. As soon as the first shots were fired, Lieutenant Colonel Gabriel Brunet de Sairigné, a popular French Foreign Legion officer, was fatally wounded. In him, the French Army lost one of the youngest commanding officers in its history; he had just turned 35. The following article was written in his memory.

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115 years ago: Foreign Legion’s company decimated by a severe snowstorm

In early February 1908, an unexpected severe snowstorm surprised a Foreign Legion company on the edge of the Sahara, during their march to a remote military post at the Algeria-Morocco border. Within hours, the unmerciful element decimated the unit. Many legionnaires died, others had to undergo amputation of their frozen extremities.

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70 years ago: A successful battle in an entrenched valley in French Indochina

In late 1952, an important confrontation between the French and the communist Viet Minh took place in then French Indochina, in a valley transformed into a well-fortified camp. A direct predecessor to the sad 1954 battle of Dien Bien Phu, the confrontation ended with a clear French victory, thanks to a significant role of the French Foreign Legion men.

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40 years ago: A combined battalion which constructed the largest military camp in Western Europe was disbanded

In 1971, a combined battalion was activated to group Foreign Legion pioneers and French Army Engineer Corps sappers to construct the largest military camp in Western Europe. Later, the battalion constructed or modernized other military training areas, before its deactivation in late 1982. Even today, these camps still preserve concrete traces of the remarkable efficiency of the men of the Foreign Legion, who reaffirmed that legionnaires are both elite soldiers and competent builders, just like their ancestors.

Read more40 years ago: A combined battalion which constructed the largest military camp in Western Europe was disbanded