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French Air and Space Force Chief of Staff Gen. Philippe Lavigne, center, and United States Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Charles Q. Brown, right, salute Wednesday morning, July 7, 2021, after placing a wreath in front of the Yorktown Victory Monument.
French Air and Space Force Chief of Staff Gen. Philippe Lavigne, center, and United States Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Charles Q. Brown, right, salute Wednesday morning, July 7, 2021, after placing a wreath in front of the Yorktown Victory Monument. (Jonathon Gruenke, Daily Press/TNS)

HAMPTON, Va. (Tribune News Service) — They’d scrambled to demonstrate the French Air Force could deploy quickly from France to the far islands of French Polynesia, but on the 9,800-mile return trip home, the pilots and air crew took on one more important mission.

They stopped at Joint Base Langley-Eustis so they could join the chiefs of staff of France’s l’Armee de l’air and the U.S. Air Force in laying a wreath honoring the sacrifices made by the 7,000 French soldiers who joined their American comrades in arms in the Battle of Yorktown for the 240th anniversary of the decisive fight of the American Revolutionary War.

“In 1781 during 21 days more than 10,000 American and French soldiers fought side by side to defend the rights of people to enjoy freedom and gain liberty,” said French Gen. Philippe Lavigne at the Yorktown Victory Monument. And they still fight and fly side by side, as they did in World War I and World War II.

“Our two nations must continue to work side by side just as we did here in Yorktown more than 200 years ago,” U.S. Air Force chief of staff Charles Brown said, after recalling the central role the French Air Force played when he was in charge of air operations during the allied campaign against the Islamic State.

“Thank you for being with us at the beginning of our nation,” he said.

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