History

NOVEMBER, 2013: Due to thousands of registrations of spammers and even more thousands of entries by spammers, we have changed the website from an open registration of valid members to a closed site requiring approval by administration before given permission to post. Nonetheless, anyone who has connections to Chateauroux during the era of 1951 to 1967 will be approved for membership. Thank you for your understaning.

JULY, 2013: Sheila Witherington encourages all former workers at the American military bases in Déols, Déols Air Depot and La Martinerie, including French and Americans, to join the website at chateauroux-usaf.com and register their names and family information in the database. All dependents and friends are encouraged to establish their family names and records on the site.

JUNE 23, 2013: Mike Gagne, president of the Châteauroux American High School Association, announced at a public press conference in Déols, France, the passing of the torch to Sheila Witherington, naming her the new president of the association. She acknowledged the public’s love and appreciation of Jenelle Peterson for organizing the association as a fund-raising tool for projects, and her dedication to the website she built and connections she provided for hundreds of people. Sheila also announced that the association would now move forward with a new name and new purpose, new goals. First of all, the new organization “Chateauroux-usaf.com,” is open to all who have or desire a connection between Americans and French during the Cold War Era in Châteauroux-Déols, with an emphasis on the French people since it is their history. With a focus on historical documentation, she explained three main goals for the organization: (1) build and maintain a common website for French and Americans who worked at the bases in Déols, and their dependents and friends; (2) develop and maintain an American Babies Memorial Park, in honor and memory of the 129 Americans babies who were buried on foreign soil; and (3) purchase, develop, and maintain a permanent Cold War Era Museum in Déols to house and display for public education the history and significance of service of military and civilians in the 1950s and 1960s, and the lasting impact it has had on the world status today.

 

Americans visiting Déols-Châteauroux during these days of joint activities with the French received front-page news coverage three consecutive days, as well as television coverage. French and American youth were featured in joint ceremonies honoring past and present friendships and service.

Américains en visite Déols-Châteauroux durant ces jours d’activités conjointes avec le Français a reçu une des journaux couverture trois jours consécutifs, ainsi que la couverture de la télévision. Jeunesse française et américaine ont été présentés lors de cérémonies conjointes honorant des amitiés et des services passés et présents.

JUNE 20-23, 2013: Fourteen Americans gathered in Déols-Châteauroux, France, for events and activities that started Thursday, June 20, and officially ended Sunday, June 23, 2013. This was the first reunion in which there were no former GIs present, and all Americans were either dependents or descendants of GIs/workers .Under the leadership of Mike Gagne, Yves Bardet, and Sheila Witherington, the activities focused on the Americans’ appreciation of the French workers at La Martinerie and Déols Air Depot during the 1950s and 1960s. The theme of the reunion of French and Americans was SIX DECADES OF FRIENDSHIP. Central to the events was Déols Abbey, where the exhibition of Cold War Era artifacts and information were collected, documented, and preserved by Yves Bardet, Cold War Era historian, and George Rebardeau, who is the president of the former military vehicles association. Each time we visit, these two men, along with French volunteers, set up this exhibit for us and the public. We are working with them and their organizations to find and create a permanent museum to house the massive collection of artifacts and documents.

OCTOBER, 2011: Mike Gagne, president of the Châteauroux American High School Alumni Association, named Sheila Witherington as vice president to assist him with state-side tasks to promote common goals among the French associations and Americans. They worked together with Yves Bardet to plan and execute a reunion in 2013.

SEPTEMBER, 2011: Jenelle Peterson passed away due to a massive heart attack. A memorial service was held among the French citizens in her honor at the Friendship Flame. She left behind a website filled with several years worth of research and development on her part, which now remains as she left it as a memorial to her dedication and hard work. Anyone can still visit the site at chateaurouxamericanhighschool.com or chateaurouxairstation.com.

JUNE, 2010: About 40 Americans met in Châteauroux under the leadership of Mike Gagne and Jenelle Peterson for a four-day reunion. During the activities, the Friendship Flame, la flame de l’amitie, was dedicated as an expression of the Americans mutual love for the people of Déols and Châteauroux. The Flame was donated by an American anonymous donor and symbolizes decades of friendship that have developed between Americans and French throughout the Cold War Era, and continuing into the present day with common goals and projects.

SEPTEMBER, 2007: About 40 Americans met in Châteauroux under the leadership of Mike Gagne and Jenelle Peterson for a four-day reunion. The group was hosted by the France USA Alliance, with tours in a chartered bus through the cities and bases of Déols and Châteauroux.

1998: A large reunion of more than 100 former GIs was hosted in Déols-Châteauroux under the direction of Mike Gagne and Barbara Bush.

1967: President Charles de Gaulle ordered all American troops out of France and to turn over all housing and buildings to French authorities. The last Americans left officially in this year.

1951: Under an agreement with NATO, Châteauroux-Déols was chosen as the command post for transportation and supply for all activities associated with the developing post-World War II Cold War. American military personnel and dependents began to arrive this year to build and develop the largest air field in Europe. In 2013, it continues to be the largest air field in Europe, where any plane in the world can land safely. It is still considered an emergency air strip in case of disaster and is maintained as such by a private company.