CANNES, France (AP) — Russian and French dignitaries are paying their respects to the last pilot in a storied French-Soviet squadron that fought the Nazis on the eastern front together in World War II.
A funeral ceremony is being held Wednesday in Cannes for Col. Gael Taburet, who died Feb. 10 at age 97.
Created by French resistance leader Charles de Gaulle, the Normandy-Niemen order flew 5,240 missions targeting Nazi forces from 1942-1945 from its base near Moscow. Of its 96 pilots, 42 died in combat.
Born Nov. 12, 1919 in western France, Taburet joined in 1944, according to the Normandy-Niemen Memorial near Paris. He later served with the French air force in Algeria, then left the military for a management career.
One Normandie-Niemen participant, 96-year-old mechanic Andre Peyronie, still survives.