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Singer Serge Gainsbourg welcomed at 2e REI

Rapace

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This will remind old memories only to a few of our members... who were there and saw that. Two short videos (second on next post) I've found on YouTube of Gainsbourg (the guy who made a scandal singing La Marseillaise on a reggae beat) welcomed to Nîmes by his buddy Col François, chef de corps of 2e REI. That was in 1985.

[video=youtube;oyo6AFd4hhI]http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=endscreen&v=oyo6AFd4hhI&NR=1[/video]
 

Rapace

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[video=youtube;FV4s9avypOo]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FV4s9avypOo[/video]
 

Eagle eye

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This will remind old memories only to a few of our members... who were there and saw that. Two short videos (second on next post) I've found on YouTube of Gainsbourg (the guy who made a scandal singing the Marseillaise on a reggae beat) welcomed to Nîmes by his buddy Col François, chef de corps of 2e REI. That was in 1985.
I was at the 2e REI at the time and Colonel François was the CO. He was one of several ‘princes noirs’ of the French Foreign Legion. He didn't need rank slides to have respect and he made no exceptions with physical threats to French officers who didn't meet standards towards legionnaires in the first place. I was present when he threatened to beat-up Commandant Labarrere for not meeting the standard before legionnaires during Christmas dinner: "partout de toutes les côtés" were his exact words. He was an amazing officer and the regiment would have followed him to Hell and back. It was a shame that he didn't make to general but he upset the upper echelons of the political hierarchy.

He arrived in the regiment with a reputation of ‘bête de guerre’. He should have normally been posted to the 2e REP but he had had a serious shoulder injury from waging a bet that he could hold on to the undercarriage of a helicopter whilst it flew the entire length of a airplane landing strip and back with two turns involved. He survived the first G-force turn but fell off the helicopter on the second turn and broke his collar bone making him inapt for the 2e REP. In Bouar, a remote camp in the Central African Republic, and during my time there in Ops bureau, during the handover between the 2e REI and 2e REP, 2eREP senior NCOs had to be reassured by Col. Janvier, the CO of the 2eREP, that Col. François would have gone to the 2e REP except for this serious injury. He was that kind of officer by sheer presence and demeanour before any necessary command.

Serge Gainsbourg had been ruffled and manhandled by 2eREP legionnaires for writing his reggae version of La Marseillaise. Col. François, and without consulting the COMLE, took the initiative to invite Serge to the Camerone Day in Nîmes and TF1 turned up as well. It was a way of quickly conciliating the Legion with one of the icons of French media and cultural society. This invitation annoyed elements of the 2e REP, and some accused Col. François as publicity seeking. It seemed a quick remedial reconciliation without laborious and prolonged hierarchical consideration before inviting ‘Gainsbarre’ (Gainsbourg's nickname).

In 1985, Gainsbourg also provided back-up to Col. Jean-Claude François when he got into trouble with Georgina Dufoix, French Minister of Health or such other ministerial post. At a presidential reception prior to the 14th July parade down the Champs-Élysées, Georgina said to Col. François that legionnaires were ‘all mouth’. The implications of this statement to Col. François were devastating and his rebuke to her was immediate.

He told her that he would say nothing to her thereafter but that he would give her a sign as he filled past the presidential tribune on the day of the national parade. As he swung by the presidential parade presided by François Miterrand and the diplomatic corps and foreign leaders and dignitaries he raised his hand and saluted as required. As he brought his hand down he clenched his fist and held it to his heart rather than bring it down to his side as required. This gesture raised eyebrows at the presidential tribune for it was confused as freemason salute or worse as an act of defiance. Serge was close at hand if not at the presidential tribune and most likely realised his friend François was in dire presidential trouble.

Later on in immediate aftermath of the national day parade, he took Col. François and re-introduced him to the French president as his personal friend and smoothed any presidential ruffled feathers and potential presidential misunderstanding for Mitterrand had sworn to disband the French Foreign Legion. BTW, At this point, and on hearing of this potential disbanding, the US military offered to pay $500 million for the 2e REP and anything else going in 1985.

One of Col. François's buds was Col. Antoine Lecerf, another ‘prince noir’ of the French Foreign Legion. Lecerf was promoted to general despite his uncompromising style and at time unorthodox leadership. He commanded the 2e REI and Mont Igman in Bosnia, and co-locacted with UK's Devonshire and Dorset and 13th Royal Artillery regiment during NATO operation ‘Deliberate Force’. This prolonged and critical operational appointment gave him the necessary ops background to general rank despite not being ‘politically correct’ on occasions. The FLNC (Corsican independence movement) fire-bombed his car whilst he was the 6th mountain company OC in the 2e REI, Corte, between 1981-1983.

So, it was that Col. François and Serge Gainsbourg had each other's back... :) Both are now in Alcoholic Vallhala: RIP
 

Rapace

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As part of this unlikely friendship, Gainsbourg issued a new version of Mon légionnaire (originally sung by Édith Piaf). Below the video clip (directed by Luc Besson).

[video=youtube;wiTGEnaaaqw]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wiTGEnaaaqw[/video]
 

Rapace

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Reggae version of La Marseillaise :

[video=youtube;DKV5ju2ZPKI]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DKV5ju2ZPKI[/video]
 

Old Adj

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I was there at the time. I also had the privilege to serve under both Colonel François and Colonel Lecerf. Gainsbourg left a lot of money at 2e REI. It is rumoured that the legionnaires' foyer (which includes bar, restaurant, shop, hairdressers salon, launderette and weight lifting room) was paid for with the money he left behind him. He is supposed to have had with him a briefcase half filled with 500 franc notes and the other half filled with packets of cigarettes. He allegedly gave the man on guard a 500 francs note because the man on guard had recognised the need to salute him on his arrival (because he was the holder of the Legion d'honneur medal).
 

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As part of this unlikely friendship, Gainsbourg issued a new version of Mon légionnaire (originally sung by Édith Piaf). Below the video clip (directed by Luc Besson).

Reggae version of La Marseillaise :


I will never understand the French.
 

RadioTex

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I also served under both Cols François and Lecerf---best friends a Legionnaire could have. It might have been 85 or 86---Gainsbourg came to the quartier one night during some fête or another---he was, of course well into his cups--a band was playing, and he was singing---a Legionnaire got up on stage to sing with him, a fight broke out, and old Serge had to be escorted off base, bleeding about the face. He was filthy rich, but still passed as a clochard. I didn't much care for him.
 

Le petit caporal

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It was Colonel de Richouffz who commanded 2 REI in Sarajevo in 93 / 94 and Mont Igman, I know because I was there..Lt Col BTX was the (Chef de Opérations Sarajevo)
BTX was my company commander in the premier company and later on became the Chef de Corps of the 2 REI
Gainsbourg and i spoke a bit under the chapiteau (circus tent)
He was impressed by my tattoos and blue eyes...hence the song, Mon legionnaire
I too did the Bastille Day parade that year...and in 87
Was selected to eat at Jacques Chirac s table afterwards (Maire de Paris at the time)
 
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