was honored June 6, 2002 for his gallantry in leading his men against
the enemy and liberating the village of Pretot. The main square of the
village was been renamed La Place de Colonel Mendez.
Mercedes Mendez, Judy
(Mendez) Smore, Gregory Mendez, Dominique Francois, Tom Porcella,
Chet Graham, Mayor of Pretot, Jean Mendez
Gatignol and Glen Dodson
Dan Shea, Adrienne
(Smore) Shea, Jean Mendez, Michelle Smore, Judy (Mendez) Smore, Katherine
(Smore) Dodson, Glen Dodson
(standing) Richard Mendez, Soley
(Mendez) Boland, Benedette Mendez, Gregory Mendez, Mark Goldsborough,
Nancy Mendez, Nikki (Mendez) Goldsborough, Harry Jeager, Judy Smore, Josh
Packer, Jean Mendez, Maddie Packer, Christopher Mendez, Fran Mendez,
Michelle Smore, Monica Boland, Lance Lashagway, Adrienne Shea, Glen
Dodson, Katherine Dodson, Lori Mendez-Packer, Gaelle Francois
Francois, Alexandra Mendez (kneeling).
Also in attendance but
not pictured, Al Mendez, Dan Shea, David Packer, Ray Boland, Walter
LIBERATED FRENCH VILLAGE 2 WEEKS AFTER D-DAY
Square will bear US hero’s name
Mexican American commander led parachutists into heavy fire
After jumping behind enemy lines with his parachute infantry regiment on D-Day and fighting his way into Nazi-occupied France Louis Mendez Jr then a young lieutenant colonel in the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division came to a life-or-death choice at the edge of Pretot a tiny village in Normandy.
Two assault companies of the battalion he commanded were pinned down by withering mortar artillery and machine-gun fire from entrenched German soldiers Delay meant seeing his men - average age 18 - chewed to pieces barely two weeks after landing on French
soil. Mendez crept to the front jumped to his feet and led his lightly armed paratroopers in a charge that drove out the Nazis and liberated the village.
This week during the 58th anniversary of the largest air land and sea operation in military history, Pretot is remembering Mendez by naming its main square after him and unveiling a marker in his honor/ But the rare accolade has come too late for the longtime northern Virginia resident Mendez one of the few Mexican American graduates of the US Military Academy before World War
II died in September at his home in Falls Church after a stroke He was 86.
“I think he will be very pleased,” said his widow Jean who still lives in the Lake Barcroft home the couple bought in 1954. “And one of the things he will be most pleased about is that so many members of his family will be there. He will be smiling.”
At least 30 members of the Mendez clan are making the trip including Jean Mendez and eight of the couple’s 12 children seven of their spouses nine grandchildren and others. Pretot, a town of 500 has invited more than 20 men who fought under Mendez in the 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment as well as the US military
attaché in Paris. Among the veterans attending is Thomas Porcella, 78, a retired airplane maintenance worker from Melbourne Fla. “We had a lot of casualties in that town,” he said of Pretot. “It’s a very emotional thing. I go back for the memories of the fellows we lost and what we left over there. I promised Td do all in my power to make sure the men of the 508th get memorialized and now they’re going to do something for our battalion commander”
[The Charlotte Observer, Charlotte, NC, 7 Jun 2002, Fri, Page 2]