Bonne fête legionnaires!
From what I’ve read the official celebration at Aubagne is going to be another closed, COVID influenced event, similar to last year, with “social distancing” (a term I’ve come to loath) and more masks. If you are unfamiliar with this event you should check out some of the posts at the Legion’s Facebook page (from where I borrowed the above image), the Foreign Legion Museum and Kepi Blanc Magazine. Here is a video of last year’s event.
The image above shows the legionnaires honored to carry and accompany the carrier of the Hand of Captain Danjou. There are usually a mix of veterans and active serving legionnaires, both enlisted and officer. The legionnaire selected to carry the hand is for Camerone 2021 the bearer of Captain Danjou’s hand will be retired General Vittorio Tresti who is a living example of a brilliant career in the Legion as an enlisted recruit, a non-commissioned officer, and then officer. General Ende will be accompanied by Master Corporal Kevin Emeneya, Chief Warrant Officer Ende, Legionnaire Tepass, Battalion Leader Tanasoiu and Chief Warrant Officer Dektianikov.
General Tresti was born on January 22, 1939 in Italy. He joined the Legion in 1958 and went to Sidi-Bel-Abbès before completing his initial training in Saïda. Assigned to the 1st Foreign Regiment, he was appointed corporal in 1960 before being transferred to the 5th Foreign Infantry Regiment. Appointed sergeant in 1962, he was admitted to the preparatory platoon of the joint military school in 1965. He obtained his parachute qualification in the 2nd Foreign Parachute Regiment. The same year, promoted to first sergeant in 1966, he passed the entrance exam for the EMIA (École militaire interarmes) where he completed his schooling and graduated as a second lieutenant in 1967. Upon graduation, Second Lieutenant Tresti was assigned to the Foreign Legion Training Group in Corsica and then to the 3rd Foreign Infantry Regiment (3REI) based in Madagascar in 1969. He was naturalized and promoted to the rank of lieutenant. In 1970, he was seconded as chief of staff and aide-de-camp to Generals de Pazzis and then Bigeard, who commanded the French forces in the southern Indian Ocean.
Back in France, he was promoted to captain on July 1, 1974, and was given the post of intelligence officer in the 2nd Foreign Regiment/Operational Group of the Foreign Legion (GOLE) in Corsica. With the GOLE, he was deployed to Djibouti for the Loyada affair from February to June 1976. His unit also carried out a short mission in Mayotte from July 1976 to February 1977. In August 1977, he was posted to the No. 1 selection center in Vincennes, where he was successively appointed as a guidance officer and commander of a training brigade.
On September 1, 1980, he graduated with the 94th class of the École de guerre (War College). In 1982, he was posted to the 3REI in French Guiana, where he served as head of the operations-instruction office. He returned to France in 1984 where he was assigned to the 6th Light Armored Division. As head of the operations section of the division’s employment office, he put his solid experience and great culture at the service of all. He was promoted to lieutenant-colonel on October 1, 1984. In 1987, he returned to 3REI in Kourou where he developed the close security system for the Guiana Space Center. Promoted to colonel in 1989, he joined the staff of the 3rd Military Region as head of the employment planning office. In 1991, Colonel Tresti was assigned to the Directorate of Higher Military Education of the French Army, where his teaching skills as a professor were noticed. Appointed Brigadier General in 1996, he left active service at that time.
He is an Officer of the Legion of Honor and of the National Order of Merit and holds several military medals and is also a Knight of the Malagasy National Order.
The theme of this year’s celebration is the Legion’s motto Honneur et Fidelite which was adopted 100 years ago–changed from the Napoleonic Valor et Discipline. The motto appears on regimental flags and other traditional motifs.
The commander of the Foreign Legion notes:
The impossible was done rightly. Understanding the inevitable outcome, measuring the importance of the time gained on this fixed enemy, the captain did what honor commanded him and laid the founding act of the Foreign Legion. He promised his legionnaires to defend themselves, all, until the end: ′′ We swore it” says Corporal Maine, they all did. Loyalty is the breath of honor. It is understandable, in fact, that our motto ′′ honor and loyalty ′′ and the name of the Battle of Camerone be inscribed together on our flags and banners. It is also fair that Captain Danjou’s articulated hand is the venerable relic of this fight and the symbol of the Legion gesture: the sacred character of the mission, the faithfulness to the word given and the exemplary of the leader. This year, to mark the hundred years of the motto “honor and fidelity”, Captain Danjou’s hand will rise up the sacred path like a flag, carried by an exceptional legionnaire, General Tresti. Carrying the hand, he will be surrounded by a guard of legionnaires of all times, able-bodied or wounded, veterans in the first rank, active soldiers in the second, of all ranks, all nationalities and all regiments. All members of the order of the Legion of Honor, all chosen as an example of fidelity to one’s word, these six officers, non-commissioned officers and legionnaires are the same as those of Camerone, described by Captain Maine: “there were all kinds of nationalities there, Poles, Germans, Belgians, Italians, Spaniards … the proximity of danger had softened the characters, erased the distances, and one would have really looked for a more perfect understanding and cohesion between such disparate elements. With that, all brave, all former soldiers, disciplined, patient, sincerely devoted to their leaders and to their flag.
Our six legionnaires are the living witnesses of the spirit of Camerone. On April 30, they will have the magnificent task of presenting our relic to the troops being honored this year: the 4th Etranger (4REI), which is 100 years old like our motto, the 1st Cavalry Etranger (1REC), which is also 100 years old, and finally, as honor and fidelity oblige, a group of representatives of our special force (those who work at the old legionnaires home), which is more than 100 years old: the cohort of honorary legionnaires. If honor is definitely attached to their rank, it is to recognize their loyalty, definitely attached to the Foreign Legion. They are part of all special missions, from the enhancement of our vines to the defense of legionnaires’ rights, from the enhancement of our heritage to the operational use of our units, working without a backward glance. The centenary of the motto Honor and Fidelity is also their anniversary.