Corsicans still remember the U.S. Air Force of World War II

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So many American planes and airmen were stationed on this French Mediterranean island during World War II that they called it the USS Corsica - an unsinkable aircraft carrier. Up and down its flat eastern shore stretched a string of 14 airfields, the jumping-off points for B-25 bombers and P-47 fighters that attacked German lines throughout Italy, southern France and Austria.

More than 50,000 American pilots, mechanics, nurses, doctors, cooks, truck drivers and others passed through Corsica after it was taken from its German occupiers in late 1943.

They are long gone, of course, and most of the airfields are, too, though a French Air Force base now sits on the site of one of them, outside this coastal town.

But six decades later, memories of them linger. Colonel Denis Charlot, who commands the 920 French Air Force personnel at Solenzara, shows a visitor a neatly folded American flag that the family of Edward Mogren, a Chicago native and B-25 pilot, presented to him during a visit last year. Mogren, who served with the 57th Bomb Wing on Corsica, died in 2003 at 82, and the flag was draped over his coffin.

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