Monument Unveils Legend of 'Lost Battalion'

By Porter, Cameron | Warrior - Citizen, Winter 2009 | Go to article overview

Monument Unveils Legend of 'Lost Battalion'


Porter, Cameron, Warrior - Citizen


FRENCH CITIZENS PAY TRIBUTE TO FAMOUS WWI AMERICAN UNIT

BINARVILLE, FRANCE- Nine decades have passed since more than 116,000 American Soldiers lost their lives in battle during Word War I, but the people of France have not forgotten and continue to pay homage and honor to these fallen heroes.

In the small town of Binarville, a monument was unveiled Oct. 7, 2008, as a humble gesture of appreciation to 687 of these heroes best portrayed in the 2002 A&E movie "The Lost Battalion" starring Ricky Schroder.

Bus loads of local officials, towns people and school children attended the solemn but salient ceremony. Maj. Gen. William Terpeluk, who traveled from New York to attend - still wearing his Statue of Liberty patch upon his left shoulder - was the keynote speaker.

Terpeluk is the last commander of the 77th Regional Readiness Command (RRC), which inactivated Sept. 30, 2008. The 77th RRC inherited its lineage from the 77th Infantry Division. The fame of the 77th, the "Statue of Liberty" Division, began in World War I with its Lost Battalion.

On Oct. 2, 1918, Soldiers from the 1st Battalion, 308th Infantry Regiment entered a narrow ravine in the Charlevaux area of France, just outside of the town of Binaville. That night the Germans quietly occupied the high ground around them, cutting the Lost Battalion off from its higher command. Five days later, 194 survivors walked out of the ravine and into legend.

Terpeluk, speaking to hundreds of French men, women and school children who attended the ceremony, spoke of how their presence and their devotion has preserved the spirit of the 77th Division and its most famous unit, the Lost Battalion.

"It is not merely an American military legend. It tells the story of sacrifice and liberty that our two nations have shared for over two centuries," Terpeluk said.

"The Soldiers of the 77th have always worn the patch of the Statue of Liberty," Terpeluk said, "and we have never forgotten that it is a gift from France."

The ceremony began with commemora- tive speeches by Terpeluk, the mayor of Binarville, and other state officials from the Argonne region of France. Following the unveiling of the monument and the speeches, elementary children from a neighboring school assisted in laying wreaths in front of the monument. Pigeons were released and taps was played to conclude the event. Immediately follow- ing, a showing of the movie "The Lost Battalion" in French was presented to those in attendance, and a gourmet lunch was served. Earlier in the day, junior high and high school students walked the area where the Lost Battalion was pinned down while their teachers and professors talked about the battle as part of their history and world geography classes.

Jacque Christopher Sauvage was one of the French teachers who walked the battleground and attended the monument dedication ceremony to the Lost Battalion with his students. …

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