Survivors of the Occupation
Danièle Patrix Boucherie
The Girl Who Wore Freedom. Born in Ste. Marie du Mont and the daughter of one of the Free French soldiers, Dany lived through the occupation and liberation and has helped to celebrate and thank America and its WWII Veterans since June 6, 1945.
Husband to Dany for 55 years, Jean-Marie was born in Carentan, France and was 7 when the Allies arrived. The Army established a base of operations in his backyard. Among other memories he shares, he recalls trading his father’s eggs to the soldiers for chocolate and chewing gum.
Born and raised in Carentan, France, Françoise was 14 when the Allies liberated her village. Before the Allies arrived, she recalls her mother mouthing off to a German officer and being sent to a work camp where, thankfully, she soon escaped. Françoise has worked since her youth to help plan commemoration activities for veterans and their friends and family.
Granddaughter of Cecil and Paul Patrix, daughter of Dany and Jean-Marie Boucherie, Flo has been immersed in D-Day history and celebration from her birth. Born in Carentan, Flo has been a passionate collector and celebrator of WWII Veterans all her life. She continues to work hard to keep the memories of her family alive and to show love and gratitude to the veterans for the freedoms and liberties she experiences each day.
Grandson to Françoise LaColley. Born in Carentan, Jean-Louis has been hearing stories of the occupation and liberation for as long as he can remember. He and his family host modern-day American soldiers for dinner each year so his grandmother can share her first-hand accounts of the occupation and liberation. He is passionate about the D-Day commemorations and does his part each year to keep the memories alive.
Grandson of a French veteran, Owner of the Batterie du Holdy (a German battery that was taken over by the Allies – now repurposed as a B&B), Director of Reenactments. Jean is passionate about keeping alive the memories of what the soldiers did for Normandy. He does this by keeping his B&B 1940’s period accurate (including period animals in the pastures!) and giving Normandy battlefield tours in a genuine Willy’s Jeep.
Co-Owner of L’Atelier and Co-Director of the Arizona Camp. Son of survivors of the occupation and liberation, he has been passionate about collecting 1940’s memorabilia and reenacting since he was a small boy. He does his part to keep the memories of WWII alive by directing the Arizona Reenactment Camp and running L’Atelier, a small private museum dedicated to the soldiers who liberated his village. He recently found letters to an American GI from his family hidden in the floorboards of an attic, and with our help in finding her, shared them with the soldier’s widow.
Co-Owner of L’Atelier and Co-Director of Arizona Camp. Collector and Reenactor. Sylvie combines her passion for the veterans and D-Day with her passion for clothes. She replicates attire of the 1940s and has written a book about how to create the 1940’s look. She works with her husband to create an authentic space to remember and celebrate at L’Atelier.
Deputy Mayor of Sainte-Mère-Église, Director Manager of the Utah Beach Museum, Owner of Brecourt Manor, Son of Colonel Michel de Vallavieille (owner of Brecourt Manor in 1944). Charles has spent his life gratefully watching over the sacred battlefields of his father’s farm and allowing veterans to visit the hallowed ground in private tours. He presents each returning veteran with a medal of thanks that his father made. He works daily with the town of Sainte-Marie-du-Mont and the Utah Beach Museum to preserve the memories of D-Day and to thank the veterans that liberated his home and town.
Collector and Re-enactor. Thomas became interested in the history of D-Day at the age of 10 when a friend’s father encouraged him to dress up as a US Army soldier. At 16 he began collecting and reenacting. His goal is to share his knowledge of the war and pay tribute to the men who fought for the liberation of Europe. He considers himself an ambassador of the history of his region and says “it is important not to forget the sacrifices of these men and women so that we can live free today.”
Collector, Re-enactor, and works at the Utah Beach Museum. Flavie became interested in WWII history when she heard her grandparents’ stories about what happened during the war. She has dedicated her life to the study of WWII and thanking the veterans who helped win her country’s freedom. In 2015, Flavie spent 3 months traveling around in the United States to personally thank WWII Veterans and collect their stories.
Collector, Reenactor, and Tourism Office Employee of Sainte-Mère-Église. At the age of 6, during a D-Day ceremony, WWII Veterans signed her t-shirt and her passion for thanking the veterans was born! Margo has dedicated her life to what she calls “memory tourism” and works every day to keep alive the memories of the brave soldiers’ actions and sacrifices.
Michelle (Price) Coupey
A native of Indianapolis, Indiana, Michelle currently resides with her French husband and their three children in her husband’s native area of Normandy. Michelle was immediately welcomed by the local French and quickly became involved in D-Day commemorations. Eager to help the “Greatest Generation,” she is devoted to helping veterans return to Normandy. She volunteers for the American Veterans Association and Veterans Back to Normandy Association.
Valérie Gautier Cardin
President, Veterans Back to Normandy Association. “An errand to run, an encounter, a lost man and the beginning of an adventure.” This is how Valérie describes the way her passion for the veterans of WWII was born. She met her first lost veteran at the age of 15 and helped him reunite with the French family that hid him when he escaped a German prison camp. This veteran introduced them to many more and in 2011 Valerie founded her organization.
Since 2012 she has helped 25 veterans and their families return to France. She works at a middle school where the students raise funds to help bring the veterans over to Normandy. The students, teachers, veterans and families go together to flower the graves of 42 American soldiers who died to give them Liberty.
Daughter of WWII and Korean War Veteran LTC Gordon K Smith, 501st Parachute Battalion, Wife to Dominique Launay, French Military Veteran and Drop Zone Safety Officer – Liberty Jump Team. Formed the Liberty Jump Team with her husband in 2006 for commemorative jumping. Her passion for remembering is driven by wanting her children and grandchildren to know more about the legacy her father left behind. They split their time between their home in Texas and at La Fière in Normandy – not far from where her father jumped in 1944.
WWII Veteran, Mississippi native, “Mr. B” served with the 101st Airborne, 506th, Easy Company, also known as “Band of Brothers.” Mr. B jumped into Normandy in the wee hours of June 6th 1944, again into Holland, and was wounded in the knee at Bastogne. He made it back to Easy Company in time for them to take Hitler’s “Eagle’s Nest.” He was one of the 60mm mortar men and served under Sgt. “Wild Bill” Guarnere as well as Major. Richard Winters. In Sept 2017, this production was able to introduce him to Dany so she could thank him, personally, for liberating her village.
COL. David Chapman
Colonel, U.S. Army, Sr. Defense Official, U.S. Embassy Paris, France. Col. Chapman’s office helps coordinate and facilitate all plans for the US Military’s participation in the yearly commemoration ceremonies. He will be participating in the 2018 commemoration parachute jumps in honor of his past unit, the 82nd Airborne.
SFC. (Ret) Cook, Cameron
As the film’s Military Liaison. SFC. Cook served as a team leader for two international relations missions to Normandy with the 101st Airborne Div. in 2015 and 2016. He was overwhelmed by the love, passion, gratitude and hospitality the French showed him and his fellow soldiers. He believes all Americans need to hear the story of D-Day from the French perspective. SFC. Cook served in the US Army from 1994-2017. He was deployed to Macedonia, Albania and to combat operations in Iraq ‘03 and Afghanistan ’12.
SGT. Taylor, Hunter J, Delta Co.
SGT. Taylor was selected to represent the 101st Airborne Div. in the 2015 D-Day commemoration ceremonies and was in awe of all he saw and did. He believes America needs to understand the depth of love and gratitude the French still carry for the Americans that came to help them. He is currently serving in the Colorado National Guard with the 10th Mountain Division.
SPC. Allex Henson
SPC. Henson travelled to Normandy for his first D-Day commemoration ceremony in 2017. He went from one moment being thanked by an elderly French woman with tears in her eyes one moment, to the next moment sitting by a millennial on a plane who didn’t know what D-Day was, the next. He says that his understanding of history and his appreciation for the sacrifices that were made in ‘44 were forever changed after his trip to Normandy and he thinks all Americans need to hear this story.