Billings man honored in France

Back on June 7, I reported that the son and widow of Leif Hoklin were traveling to France to take part in a ceremony honoring his service during World War II. The ceremony was at Batz-Sur-la-Mer, near where his B-17 Flying Fortress went down after dropping bombs on a German submarine base in 1943.

Hoklin, ball turret gunner on the Yahoodi, was one of three survivors of the 10-man crew on the mission. He spent the rest of the war as a prisoner. Dedication of a memorial listing the names of the airmen who took part in the mission was part of the ceremony.

Noel Hoklin, Leif’s son, said he and his mother, Darlene, got back to Billings on Thursday. He sent me the video shown here of a French news report on the ceremony. My college French, never good, has gotten a lot worse, but it isn’t too hard to follow what is going on, and the bombing footage is remarkable.

If anybody wants to chip in with some French translation, please feel free.

The report includes an interview with Darlene Hoklin, who speaks in English but is hard to hear because of the French voiceover. You can hear her say of the ceremony, “It almost breaks your heart, it’s so wonderful.”

“Everything went well,” Noel Hoklin said in an email. “Quite emotional, as you can imagine.”

The entire 30-minute ceremony that took place in this coastal town is posted here. The video alternates French and English and is hard to hear in places because of the steady pounding of the surf.

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