Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. CQ Brown, Jr. and French Air and Space Force Chief of Staff General Phillippe LaVigne, gathered at the Yorktown Victory Monument July 7 to lay a commemorative wreath marking 240-years of the siege of Yorktown.
During the ceremony, a wreath was placed at the memorial commemorating the final turning point in America’s war independence. The ceremony included four F-22 Raptors from the 1st Fighter Wing, Joint Base Langley-Eustis and four French Air Force Rafale fighters from Escadron de Chasse 2/4 Lafayette (Fighter Squadron 2/4 La Fayette), Saint-Dizier, France, performing a flyover at the monument, demonstrating true teamwork and strong airpower partnership.
“Since the beginning of both of our democracies, we have worked hard to ensure democracy is the example for the world to follow. I am grateful and humbled to be here with you today as we lay a wreath at Yorktown to commemorate our past, present and future alliance,” Brown said during the ceremony.
“The French have been our oldest ally and over the last 240 years, have been one of our strongest,” Brown said. “Since the inception of airpower, the French and U.S. Air Forces have worked together to realize the dreams of early aviation pioneers.”
Yorktown is a historic model of a combined and joint task force in one unified command. The battle marked a remarkable set of cooperative decisions by the American and French where 17,000 alliance troops fought side by side in the most important battle of the Revolutionary War paving the way for the freedoms we know today.
“As we honor this momentous event in the timeline of America’s history, we must also consider how to continue to achieve improved interoperability with our allies and partners so that we can fly, fight and win together,” Brown said. “Accelerate Change or Lose also means expanding our network of like-minded Airmen from around the world, to leverage our common perspective against shared threats, to present multiple dilemmas to our competitors and adversaries.”
Yorktown was the last major action of the revolutionary war following six-and-a-half years of military struggle. The ceremony reinforces the French and American alliance that secured the independence of the United States while honoring those who fought and died during the Battle of Yorktown in 1781.
“This battle of Yorktown was emblematic of a cooperative victory [of] joint strategy and coordination of effort, where Franco-American friendship was sealed,” Lavigne said. “Ever since that battle of Yorktown, both our countries have been fighting to defend democracies, freedom and respect of human rights in the world.”
The Franco-American friendship extends beyond Yorktown to 104 years ago when the American forces helped France win the First World War, to 77 years ago when the American forces landed on Normandy to begin the liberation of France and Europe to present operations throughout the Middle East.
“Let’s keep on winning together as a team with a common desire, a common vision to get prepared for the future battle space that will be more complex, more contested and likely to expand across regions worldwide,” Lavigne said.
The French Air and Space Force visited JB Langley-Eustis as they returned to France from their recent participation in southwest Pacific exercises.