Hagel Meets with French Defense Minister Le Drian
Hagel Meets with French
Defense Minister Le Drian
By Cheryl Pellerin, American Forces Press Service.
Washington D.C. – (AFPS)
– June 7, 2014 – Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel met today in Paris with French
Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, the day after both attended D-Day
anniversary ceremonies in Normandy in honor of the sacrifice and victory of June
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel meets with
veterans from several nations at the 70th anniversary celebration of D-Day at
Omaha Beach in Normandy, June 6, 2014
The talks were open and wide-ranging, Pentagon Press
Secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby said in a statement, “in keeping with the close
relationship between the two militaries and the friendship” between the defense
Discussion topics included counterterrorism activities in
Africa, where the United States and France have many common interests in helping
African nations deal with that threat, Kirby added.
This morning in Suresnes, near Paris, former Georgia Sen. Max
Cleland, secretary of the American Battle Monuments Commission, greeted Hagel at
the American Cemetery and Memorial.
There, Hagel and Le Drian walked to the grave of Cpl. Frank
B. Milliard, a corporal in the 346 Field Artillery, 91st division, who died
Sept. 20, 1918. He was from Nebraska, and his grave was marked with an American
and a French flag.
Angelo Munsel, superintendent of the Suresnes American
Cemetery, provided details of Milliard’s service to Hagel and Le Drian.
The memorial holds 1,565 headstones, mostly from World War I,
and 24 unknown soldiers from WWII.
Munsel said the cemetery is the only one with WWI and WWII
war dead, although Lt. Quentin Roosevelt, killed in WW1, is buried in Normandy
next to his brother Brig. Gen. Theodore Roosevelt Jr., who died in World War II
after the Normandy landing.
Many of those buried in the cemetery died of the world’s
first recorded H1N1 swine flu pandemic that hit American Expeditionary Forces
hard in September 1918.
The group then walked from Milliard’s grave at the bottom of
a hill to the Memorial at the top, offering a panoramic view of Paris.
Munsel provided history of the building, noting that Woodrow
Wilson delivered his speech on the League of Nations at the site. “There is a
lot of history here,” Hagel said, and Le Drian and the secretary placed wreaths
of red and white roses and blue hydrangeas in front of the memorial building.
A recording from the memorial played a 21 gun salute followed by the French
national anthem, as well as the Star Spangled Banner. As the U.S. anthem played,
a light rain began to fall.
Later, during their meeting, Hagel and Le Drian discussed the
NATO Summit, Russian actions in Ukraine, the French sale of Mistral-class ships
to Russia, and the security concerns of Allies in Southern Europe, Kirby said.
The defense leaders also spent time reflecting on the D-Day
anniversary and the history of the past century, Kirby added.
Hagel said the D-Day ceremony "is a reminder of what history
teaches and informs us if we are wise enough to learn from events from the past."
(Follow Cheryl Pellerin on
Twitter @PellerinAFPS) :
Special report: Travels with Hagel