'America is worth the sacrifice': Memorial dedication in France for Utahn killed during WWII


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SALT LAKE CITY — There's a certain sense of reverence many of us feel when it comes to hearing Taps and seeing the American flag.

Even though Camille Noel could see the ceremony happening in front of her, she still couldn't believe it.

"Oh, it was incredible," she said. "I never thought, ever, that this would happen."

Noel, a Utah resident, was in the small town of Épagne-Épagnette, France, Saturday. It was for the unveiling of a memorial honoring the men who were shot down in a B-17 bomber during World War II.

They crashed near the town 80 years ago to the day.

Learning more

Noel studied and wrote a school paper on one of the men being honored, 2nd Lt. John "Jack" Lundberg. Lundberg is from Val Verda, Utah, which eventually became Bountiful, where Noel grew up.

"When I first started writing on him, I thought this is an assignment and I will be done," she said. "But then I was like, 'Oh, I want to learn a little bit more.'"

That led Noel to contact a newspaper in the town where Lundberg's plane crashed. Eventually, those conversations led to the town wanting to do something for the crew.

On Saturday, all of their planning and work was finalized when a memorial honoring the men was dedicated.

An emotional day

The event brought tears to Noel's eyes.

"Person after person just came up to me, even if they didn't speak English, they were talking to me and thanking me. It was just incredible," Noel said.

Lundberg was 25 years old when he died. He had just sent his family and wife a letter, sharing his love for them, because he didn't think he would make it home.

In that letter, he wrote, "The United States of America is worth the sacrifice."

"I think he knew how dangerous the mission was," Noel said. "It is just incredible that he knew he was most likely going to die and that he wanted to share those last words with his family."

Now, Lundberg will be honored in a French town forever. It is a reminder of the true cost of freedom American soldiers made for them.

"The people here really, really, really do appreciate the sacrifices that the crew made," Noel said.

Lundberg is buried at the Normandy American Cemetery.

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Alex Cabrero
Alex Cabrero is an Emmy award-winning journalist and reporter for KSL-TV since 2004. He covers various topics and events but particularly enjoys sharing stories that show what's good in the world.

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