Tag Archives: Bob Loomis

Friday Flashback #116

The other day, alert “06880” reader Alan Hamilton was checking out Westport’s Wikipedia page.

He noticed we have 3″sister cities”: Marigny-le-Lozon, France; St Petersburg, Russia, and Yangzhou, China.

I guess we’re one of those families where siblings don’t really communicate. It’s been ages since we’ve chatted with our French, Russian and Chinese sisters!

But Alan wanted a closer relationship. He took a virtual drive — aka Google Street View — through Marigny.

And there — smack in the center of town — he saw this:

“Pharmacie Westport”!

He wondered if there is a story to this.

Bien sûr!

Right after D-Day in 1944, Westporter Bob Loomis — a gun sergeant — ended up in Marigny. It’s just 25 miles from Utah Beach.

A couple of weeks later another Westporter — heavy machine gunner Clay Chalfant — moved through Marigny with his company on their way to Belgium.

Woody Klein’s history of Westport notes that after the war Charlotte MacLear — head of the French department at Staples High School — sparked a campaign to “officially adopt Marigny” and help its recovery.

Our town sent clothes, money and Christmas gifts, thanks to fundraising that included selling toys and buckets with designs painted by Westport artists.

In return, Marigny created the “Westport School Canteen,” and named the town’s largest square “Place Westport.”

In June 1994 — as part of the 50th anniversary of the invasion of Normandy — Marigny invited 3 Westport middle school students and 2 Westport veterans to stay in the homes of residents. They visited “Westport Gift Shop” and — of course — “Pharmacie Westport.”

The 2 veterans were, of course,  Loomis and Chalfant

Zut alors!

Marigny – c’est magnifique!

Felicitations, Bob Loomis

In the 1930s, Bob Loomis lived on the outskirts of Paris with his American father and French mother. When the Germans occupied the country, his parents moved to the US.

Loomis was drafted in 1942. On D-Day, he landed on Utah Beach. With many other soldiers, he fought heroically to recapture that important territory. He earned a Silver Star for saving his troops from a grenade that landed in their foxhole.

After the war, Loomis became a commercial artist. He’s lived in Westport for 55 years, including a long stint as art director for the marketing giant MCA.

In his mid-50s, Loomis went to nursing school. For decades, he served as a member of Westport’s Volunteer Emergency Medical Service corps.

In 1985, Bob Loomis designed the logo for Westport's 150th anniversary celebration.

In 1985, Bob Loomis designed the logo for Westport’s 150th anniversary celebration.

Tomorrow morning (Wednesday, June 17), he’ll welcome a special visitor to his Kings Highway home. Connecticut’s honorary French consulate is coming from Hartford, to award him the Croix de Guerre: France’s medal of honor for bravery in combat.

It’s part of the French government’s ongoing effort to recognize American soldiers, for their help in the liberation of France.

Remarkably, this is the 3rd Croix de Guerre for the Loomis family. His father received the honor for his heroism as a fighter pilot in World War I. And Loomis’ cousin was awarded the same medal for working with the Underground in World War II, hiding soldiers from the Germans.

That cousin is 96, living in Paris. Loomis and he are often in touch.

Now — thanks to the French government — they have one more special bond.

Bob Loomis proudly displays some of his medals. Tomorrow, he'll add the Croix de Guerre.

Bob Loomis proudly displays some of his medals. Tomorrow, he’ll add the Croix de Guerre.

(Hat tip: Patricia Broderick)