Honneur à nos Anciens!
70 Years ago today: 13 Décembre 1952 – Indochine française. Portrait of Master Corporal (caporal-chef) Auguste Apel, legionnaire with the 2e Bataillon Étranger de Parachutistes (2e BEP).
Photo Pierre Ferrari/ECPAD/Défense TONK 52-217 R45
Note MCpl. Apel’s bandaged left hand and U.S.-supplied M1 helmet. The above image was taken at a support point during the battle of Na San, one of the forgotten victories won by the French army over the Vietminh.
Formed in October 1948 at Sidi-bel-Abbès from volunteers of other Legion units, 2 BEP landed at Saigon just four months later and would remain there for the duration of the French conflict in Indochina. By that time, the battalion has suffered 1,500 casualties while its cased colored was decorated with six citations and the fourragère of the Legion of Honor.
Disbanded in 1955, it was expanded to a full regiment with the same number, 2e REP, which earned more decorations in Algeria, Chad, Kolwezi, Lebanon, Kuwait, Somalia, Kosovo, and Afghanistan.
The regiment still exists, based since 1962 in Corsica, and probably still has gruff old master corporals smoking cigarettes, bemoaning the long ago “good old days.”