By U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa/U.S. 6th Fleet Public Affairs
The U.S. 6th Fleet commander, Vice Adm. Lisa M. Franchetti, delivered remarks during a Memorial Day Ceremony at the North Africa American Cemetery May 27, 2019.
This was Franchetti’s first visit to Tunisia and provided the opportunity to not only participate in the Memorial Day event but also engage with U.S. and Tunisian leaders.
“Today, we reflect on the immense sacrifice of allied forces and the tragic loss of countless civilians during the North African Campaign,” said Franchetti. “The series of operations that comprised this campaign were strategically significant to enable allied victory in the Second World War.”
Dedicated in 1960, the 27-acre cemetery is the resting place for 2,841 U.S. military personnel. The cemetery also includes a Wall of the Missing, upon which are inscribed the names of 3,724 individuals who are missing in action. Most of those buried at the North Africa American Cemetery or those memorialized on the Wall of the Missing lost their lives while conducting military activities ranging from North Africa to the Persian Gulf during World War II.
“The men and women memorialized here represent the best of American bravery in the face of adversity,” said Franchetti. “The heroism displayed by these individuals laid the groundwork for future generations to enjoy the regional peace and prosperity that came from their grit and determination.”
The U.S. Ambassador to Tunisia, the Honorable Donald Blome, also spoke during the ceremony. In his remarks, Ambassador Blome shared the stories of a few of the thousands Americans who showed remarkable courage during World War II and were buried at the cemetery.
“Both of our countries have paid a heavy price for our freedoms. Together, we must remain committed to our ideals, our democracies, and our friendship, which protects us both,” said Blome. “To those who have gone before us, to those who have sacrificed themselves for a noble cause, and to those who gave their lives for peace - we remember you.”
In addition to participating in the Memorial Day ceremony during her visit to Tunis, Franchetti and Blome discussed the U.S.-Tunisian bilateral country action plan and other shared equities. Franchetti also met with the Tunisian Navy Chief of Staff, Rear Adm. Abderraouf Atallah, to discuss increased engagement opportunities with the Tunisian Naval Forces, including playing a more central role in exercise Phoenix Express, one of three regional Express Series exercises facilitated by U.S. Naval Forces Africa/U.S. 6th Fleet. To conclude the visit, Franchetti spoke at the Tunisian Senior War College to share her perspective on maritime security in the Mediterranean.
“Tunisia and the United States continue to strengthen our friendship, which grows stronger every day. Our friendship and partnership dates back to 1797, when our countries signed the Treaty of Peace and Friendship in Tunis,” said Franchetti. “We must continue that work together, to promote peace, security, and prosperity, and reduce the influence and expansion of violent extremist organizations that threaten our collective security.”
Tunisia is located on the Mediterranean Sea, one of the most strategically important bodies of water on the globe. Continuing to integrate in training, exercises, and real world operations with our African partners will remain a top priority for Franchetti and the U.S. 6th Fleet.
U.S. 6th Fleet, headquartered in Naples, Italy, conducts the full spectrum of joint and naval operations, often in concert with allied and interagency partners, in order to advance U.S. national interests and security and stability in Europe and Africa.