Laon Air Base after 50 years

By Glen Brady

  After a good night sleep and breakfast at the Hotel by the Lake, 6 miles southeast of Laon, (the old swimming hole) Mr. Croza came to take my son and I to the Air Base, where Mr. Buret who had the clearance to take us on the base was waiting.  I noticed that the Main Gate was the same one that we use to have with the Pass and ID building just to the left of it.  The guard at the gate was kind enough to take a picture with us, after which Mr. Buret showed him the letter that allowed us to enter.  It felted great to drive into the old base again; it was an emotional time for me & the highlight of my trip.

   Old memories of tents, barracks, and hangers, now all gone.  I saw what looked like an old mess hall, Gym, the old parachute building, control tower, and the Headquarters building.  The rear gate to Couvron is gone with just a fence stopping anything coming from the town.  The old runway is still there, but is cracking up with age.  I stopped and took some pictures of some buildings that I was told were still standing when we were there.  Trees were all over the place. I tried but couldnít remember where everything was.  It is now a French Army weapons storage area.  Theyíre places on the base that we were not allowed to enter.

  Someone said they thought there were atomic bombs stored there, but no one could say for sure.  We were going to have lunch on the base, but the cafť was closed because of a holiday. We went to the Crepy square next to the church, at the place where the plaque that will honor the Americanís and Frenchmen who were stationed and worked at Laon AB.  We then made a visit to Couvron, my how that town has changed.  On the road to Laon we stopped to look at the house where the Belle Vue Bar was (Story about the bar in the Laon Sentinel).  In Laon we went to the train station and tried to find Susieís bar.  I saw about five bars around the train station, not knowing which one was the old Susieís, I took pictures of all of them.  I asked for help from some of the APís that use to do town patrol, and some that almost lived in the bar, before I felt I had found the old bar, although with a different name.  The hole in the wall is gone.

  We dropped my son off at the bottom of the stairs and told him we would meet him at the top.  We met him at the top of the stairs, and then went to see the beautiful church on the top of the hill.  My son and I eat lunch at Mr. Buretís house and then had dinner at Mr. Crozaís house.  The food was out of this world!!! Their wifeís really know how to cook!!!

  The next day we drove to Belgium and stayed the night with Ray Mory and his sweet wife Huguette, again another delicious meal.  I only regret that we didnít have more time to visit with these three Frenchmen and their families.   They did not forget us after all these years and you know in your heart that they respect and love America.