News: D-Day survivor donates mementos to 82nd Airborne Division Museum
Story by Sgt. Kissta DiGregorio
FORT BRAGG, N.C. - Maurice Renaud, who was only 2 years old, does not remember the night of June 6, 1944, when American paratroopers jumped into his hometown of Sainte Mere Eglise, France. What he does remember are the years following the World War II attack - including eating meals with U.S. soldiers at his childhood home.
“We had American paratroopers always visiting my parents,” Renaud said. “Many dinners. Great celebrations.”
Today, he is the president of the Friends of the American Veterans Association and has traveled to Fort Bragg, N.C., to donate D-Day memorabilia to the 82nd Airborne Division Museum, Sept. 5.
The donations included a letter from his father, wartime mayor of Sainte Mere Eglise, to a French government official asking for the 82nd to be awarded the French Fourragere for liberating the town. Two drawings by his older brother, Paul, were also donated, one of the battle on the square when Paul was 15, and the other of the town church’s stained glass window depicting 82nd troopers parachuting from the sky.
“We have so much history with the American paratrooper it would take three days to tell you,” he said.
His mother is also known for her work on behalf of division troopers. Known as the Mother of Normandy, madame Simone Renaud spent the rest of her life tending to the graves of American soldiers who died there and contacting soldiers’ loved ones at home.
Due to the tie he and his family have with the division, Renaud said he felt it was time to pass these historic mementos on to the museum to be shared with others who keep the 82nd and its paratroopers close to heart.
He said it was also important to show the appreciation the people of Sainte Mere Eglise and Normandy have for division paratroopers.
“With the 70th anniversary (of D-Day) coming next year, I thought it would be a good idea for the museum to have these documents,” he said. “It’s a great feeling and rewarding to share this history.”
“It’s a tremendous honor to host monsieur Renaud, son of wartime mayor of Sainte Mere Eglise,” said 82nd Airborne Division Commander Maj. Gen. John W. Nicholson Jr., who ceremoniously accepted the donations on behalf of the museum. “His family not only helped our troopers in combat, but has honored them ever since. These mementos will help us continue to honor their legacy in the future.”