SFC Thomas Favia organized the remembrance ceremony for LTC Arthur Nicholson, of the United States Military Liaison Mission, who was shot and killed by a Soviet sentry on 24 March 1985 in the former DDR.
Tom also took the opportunity in the ceremony to remember Adj Chef Philippe Mariotti of the French Military Liaison Mission who was killed by a Stasi action on 22 March 1984 in the vicinity of Halle. Two former members of the French Foreign Legion also attended the ceremony from the Amicale in Forbach.
U.S. Retired Brigadier General Kevin Ryan, President of the USMLM Association and USMLM Veteran, attended. Former Special Forces Major Barry Duplantis and former Berlin Brigade officer Mark Valley were also present.
Two active duty U.S. soldiers from the 421st MMB in Baumholder joined the ceremony which was superbly supported by the “Reservistenverband” from Mecklenburg-Vorpommern and active soldiers of the 401st Panzergrenadier Bn.
The wreath laying ceremony took place on Sunday Morning, 23 March, at the memorial site for LTC Nicholson, a few meters from the location where he was killed. SFC Favia gave a short speech in honor of both men.
Also present at the wreath laying ceremony was the deputy district mayor Mrs. Billabeck.
Afterwards, SFC Favia along with Brig Gen Ryan and other U.S. and German Comrades, walked to the site of the killing on the fields of the former Soviet sub-caliber tank range and observed a moment silence after placing a USMLM crest in the soil.
General Ryan, Oberstleutnant Stahn, Monsieur Albert Starck, Honorable Deputy District Mayor Mrs. Billabeck, Comrades, Ladies and Gentlemen.
We are gathered here today to remember and pay respects to two fallen comrades: LTC Arthur “Nick” Nicholson and Adj Chef Philippe Mariotti. Both were members of their respective Military Liaison Missions to the Soviet Forces on the territory of the former German Democratic Republic.
LTC Nicholson was killed a few meters from here in the line of duty on 24 March 1985, tomorrow being the 29th anniversary of his death, and Adj Chef Mariotti was killed near Halle on 22 March 1984, yesterday having been the 30th anniversary of his death.
Both of these men were Soldiers, both of these men were executing their duties and both of these men gave their lives in the line of that duty.
Germany was reunited, the Cold War ended, the Soviets returned home and the MLMs were deactivated: History.
However, these soldiers, these comrades and their deaths should not be forgotten nor reduced to History books: they were friends, brothers, fathers, husbands and sons and we should keep their memories alive by such simple actions and ceremonies.
Even though they are buried on their respective home soil in the U.S.A. and France, we should never forget where their deaths took place, nor their graves, because as Albert Schweitzer once said: “Soldiers’ graves are the greatest preachers of peace.”
German and French Allies Assist in Wreath Laying Ceremony
SFC (ret) Tom Favia and LTC Helge Stahn
A Private Ceremony of veterans at the exact spot of LTC Nicholson’s shooting.
Attendees render honors at the memorial. In red coat is Deputy District Mayor Mrs. Billabeck