Lieutenant Richard Francis Hoy
World War II veteran Lieutenant Colonel Roy Simmons, 87, received a phone call last year and learned that the memory of his wing pilot Lieutenant Richard Francis Hoy continues to be honored in Larzac, France 66 years after his death. This past August, Simmons returned for the first time to Larzac and attended the annual ceremony in which Lieutenant Hoy and 23 resistance fighters are commemorated.
Simmons had no idea about any of this until he was contacted by US Vietnam veteran Donald M. Bohler in 2009. Colonel Bohler, who is married to a French woman and lives between the southern French city of Montpellier and Florida, attended the commemoration at La Pezade in 2006 and saw the dead American's name on the memorial.
His interest piqued, Bohler began to search the web and the local newspaper archive and learned that Hoy died childless and that his widow remarried after his death. Last year, he learned that Hoy’s first pilot Lieutenant Colonel Roy Simmons was still living -- in Nashville, Tennessee, -- and, so, Bohler called him.
"He was very cautious with me, because this was something that does not happen every day. Then we started slowly talking a little more. He wanted to know who I was, why I was even asking this question.”
"I had pushed a very soft button. He had no idea of what had happened after he left the area and flew away ... he did not know what had happened in the 65 years since."
If you are fortunate to find this place of La Pezade on 22 August, when the town honors Captain Hoy and the 23 French resistance fighters, you’ll hear the strains of La Marseillaise. But after the music has died away into the wind that sweeps the Larzac plateau, you’ll hear the familiar refrain of the Star Spangled Banner and watch as the Stars and Stripes is raised to join the French tri-color.
With this, we are all comrades. We are as one. We remember.
Portions of this article are adaptations from Donald M. Bohler’s article Remembering a Liberator: American Honored with French Fighters, .