Geneviève de Galard, The Angel of Dien Bien Phu

Geneviève de Galard, The Angel of Dien Bien Phu, has been featured on my Elegant Survivors page for many months. This exceedingly valiant heroine and her husband live in Paris….

Here is an excerpt from a letter by the editor of Geneviève de Galard’s autobiography, William Hopanski:

Geneviève asked me to translate her recent video from the French , and you will see my translation superimposed. I ask that you share the video with as many people as possible, and especially send it to teachers of French classes in high schools and colleges near you. Geneviève dedicated many years to working with and for young people, and she hopes that her story will inspire many of them to do what they can to promote freedom worldwide.

Following is the introduction I wrote in 2010 for AUSA, delivered by a general during Geneviève’s reception and book signing in Washington. It will give you an overview of this remarkable person and the enormous challenge she overcame.

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“In the spring of 1954, with the Free World engaged in a global struggle to contain Communism, all eyes were on a French garrison in a remote northwestern corner of Vietnam: Dien Bien Phu. Fifteen thousand French Union forces were surrounded by a 35,000 man Viet Minh army, supported by a 300,000-strong supply and labor force. Hanoi was 180 air miles distant, and wounded and dying needed to be evacuated from the airstrip which was under almost constant artillery bombardment.

A young French flight nurse had flown through antiaircraft fire into and out of this hell many times. On 28 March 1954, her evacuation aircraft succeeded in landing in the dark, but ran into barbed wire which ruptured the oil tank. After daylight the disabled aircraft was spotted and destroyed by artillery. This was the last plane to land at Dien Bien Phu. She was trapped.

What follows is the story of an incredibly skillful, compassionate, courageous young woman who for 57 days, to include 17 as a prisoner of the enemy, gave treatment and hope to those men who with profound respect and affection called her “our Geneviève,” and whom the American press named, “The Angel of Dien Bien Phu.” After her release, President Eisenhower invited her to the United States where she received a tickertape parade up Broadway, a standing ovation in Congress, and the Medal of Freedom from the president at the White House. It is an extraordinary honor to introduce Geneviève de Galard, ‘The Angel of Dien Bien Phu.'”

~~William Hopanski, Editor

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