CHIÈVRES, Belgium -- On April 13, 1944 a U.S. Air Force B-17 flying fortress, called the "Royal Flush," was coming back from a successful raid over the ball bearing industries in Schweinfurt, Germany when it was hit by the German flak based in Chièvres, Belgium. The plane crashed in a nearby field in Fouleng, killing six out of the 10 crew members. Three airmen were hidden by the local resistance while the fourth one, injured, was made prisoner of war by the Germans.
For the last 74 years, the city of Silly has committed to commemorating this event during a wreath-laying ceremony at the exact place of the crash in Fouleng. On April 10, Christian Leclercq, mayor of Silly, and Air Force Lt. Col. Craig D. Lindstrom, commander of the 424th Air Base Squadron, both highlighted in their speeches the importance of the bond between Belgium and the U.S. "These commemorations bind our nations and solidify the friendship between Belgians and Americans, a friendship that was born on the battlefield many decades ago," said Lindstrom.
The ceremony drew the attention to those airmen who died in the name of freedom as well as to the courage of the local residents who helped the surviving airmen. Donna Schurman, niece of the pilot Air Force 1st Lt. James Robert Lavin, sent a letter that was read during the ceremony where she addressed her gratefulness for this event. "I am in constant awe by the genuine display of thankfulness and affection exhibited by you toward our fallen heroes. Recently, I have lost many players in the Royal Flush story, and I miss them greatly. But they and you will live forever in the hearts of the Royal Flush family."