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Special events:Ceremony Isola, Southern France

Memorial Service at the town of Isola, Southern France, Maritime Alps.
On Thursday the 19th of August 2010, Joe Cicchinelli, was staying in the town of Isola. On this day a memorial service was organized for the 551st Parachute Infantry Battalion and Joe Cicchinelli.

After liberating the city of Nice on the 29th of August 1944, the 551st Parachute Infantry Battalion was send to the Maritime Alps on the French-Italian border.
The 551st objective was to protect the 65 km. line on the right flank of the 7th US Army. The 509th PIB was on the left of the 551st PIB and the 550th GIB was on the right of the 551st PIB.

Together they formed the 509th Taskforce.
Joe and his A company where settled at the town of Isola, a small town at 800 meters altitude.
Their opponents were the Austrian 5th Hochgebirgsjäger Division. Joe and his company stayed in the town until November 1944.
The “GOYA birds” had to perform like Mountain Troops, under difficult conditions, the first snow fell around the 5th of October, with the Germans holding higher grounds in the Alps.
When I arrived in the town of Isola on the 19th of August, I was warmly welcomed by my friend Joe Cicchinelli. He was sitting and waiting for me on a bench on the town square. At 10.30 hr. a special Catholic service on behave of Joe and the 551st PIB took place in the Sainte Anne Chapel.
  After this impressive memorial service the inhabitants of Isola walked together to the 551st PIB monument .
At the War Memorial Monument on the town square a special commemoration took place on behave of all the victims of the Second and First World war.

In the period that the 551st PIB stayed in Isola, more than a 1000 German shells fell on the town and killing several inhabitants of Isola.

After the Memorial Service, there was a BBQ for invited guests.
Joe and I excused ourselves and went for a walk through the town of Isola. Joe showed me the former 551st PIB HQ and the building where he and his GOYA buddies where housed during their stay at Isola.

It warmed my heart to see that the inhabitants of Isola still have a great admiration for a man like Joe and the 551st PIB. That’s how it should be, may these men never be forgotten.