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Testimony of Colonel (h) Gilbert SARRAIL,

childhood friend of Marcel Coustal

The memory I have of him is that he arrived in the village of Cuxac-d'Aude when I was in primary school. Orphan of mother, he had a younger brother than him of two or three years, I believe. If I remember correctly, his father had remarried a widow named Levasseur; she had a son a year older than Marcel. This new family had settled and lived in the village.

I have fond memories of Marcel: a pleasant, kind and generous comrade, always in a good mood. He got on well with everyone, and everyone in our class quickly called him Marcel. Of course, like us, he had taken up rugby, but was neither feisty nor aggressive unlike others. He was animated by the discretion proper to those who have already suffered and who have learned to keep a benevolent eye on others. We were good friends at the time before starting in 6th grade and each made their way in different classes. He joined the Navy very early, at 16, I believe; we never saw each other again.

In 1968, the tragedy of the submarine "Minerve" was a real shock for us, the young people of the village, even if the distressing searches gave us hope. It was the precise face of an esteemed and loved comrade that we had in mind: our hearts bled in silence, with this silence that the depths engulf without ever reaching oblivion. A tribute was paid to him, as well as to the crew of the submarine, at the war memorial of the village where had been gathered, in the heart of a large moved and shocked crowd, the young people of his age and those of the of primary. Like other comrades in the village, I never made contact with his family. Out of respect for the pain, out of fear of clumsiness, out of fear of breaking down with emotion in front of his family? At 18, I was still very shy!

I never doubted the bravery of Marcel COUSTAL nor his courage, just as I never doubted the bravery of the whole crew. I still keep today the memory of Marcel as that of a comrade with a big heart, appeased and soothing.

At the time, my motivation to join the armies and, in priority, in the navy was heavily tested, but came out reinforced by the image of this greatness of soul, by the courage and the sense of sacrifice shown by this crew. , these eternal values which give meaning to life, which underpin our commitment to serving our country.

In September 1968, I entered the Naval College in Brest...

Colonel (h) Gilbert SARAIL

Officer of the Legion of Honor

Military Valor Cross

(citation to the order of the air wing)

Marcel Coustal

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