Lionel CASSIEDE was born on February 16, 1927, at Vigneux sur Seine, Essonne.
He was hardly 17 when he was caught by the Gestapo on April 4, 1944, between Dax and Bayonne, as he attempted to join the Free France Forces. He was successively detained at Biarritz, at Mont de Marsan where his father was at that same time, and subsequently at Fort du Hâ, Bordeaux. He escaped on July 24, 1944, from the Bordeaux underwater base where he was forced and coerced to work by the Germans. Two months later, with a strong resolve to fight the occupier, he, on September 16, 1944, joined the 8th light infantry riflemen battalion. He enthusiastically participated in the liberation of the city of Metz, and then in the Sarre operations.
Demobilised at the end of the war, Caporal Cassiède’s eagerness for adventures pushed him to reintegrate, in June 1948, the first parachutist commando infantry half-brigade. Having volunteered to go and serve in the Indochina war, he landed at Saigon in February 1949, went to the southern air base where he obtained his parachutist licence. Involved in several operations, and thanks to his cold headedness and foolhardiness, he was promoted to sergeant in July 1949. On January 26, 1951, during the Saint-Antoine operation, he distinguished himself when he went to a minefield to fetch three injured soldiers under very stiff Vietminh resistance.
Upon return to France, he re-enlisted into the general services of infantry troops and, in 1952, joined the 4th colonial infantry regiment. His desire to fight, to return to the front again, took him back to Indochina within the 1st colonial parachute battalion in July 1953. Once he landed at Haiphong, he fought in a series of operations in the north of the country. His outstanding qualities of leader and serviceman were proven during two deadly confrontations in the east of Dien Bien Phu on December 2 and 4, 1953. Also on February 9, 10 and 11, 1954, while commanding his team, he distinguished himself in the Dong Hene of Middle-Laos, during a reconnaissance mission far into the enemy territory. As a courageous and determined non-commissioned officer, he alongside his company was dropped in the night of May 2 breaking 3, 1954, at the Eliane 2 anchor point in the Dien Bien Phu furnace. He won the admiration of everybody as he foolhardily succeeded to reassemble his men despite the heavy and blood-craving fire of the enemy.
On May 6, while there was no more doubt about the tragic outcome of the battle, subdued to his position under heavy fire, he, as commander of his section, resisted and pushed back till the following day the fury of the enemy, which far outnumbered his section. On May 7, in the morning, Eliane 2 was still putting up strong resistance. Having been wounded the previous evening by grenade pieces, he powerlessly witnessed the fall of Dien Bien Phu. He was taken prisoner by the Vietminh on May 8. After trekking a distance of 700 km and about 4 months of gruelling captivity in a re-education camp, he was freed on August 31, 1954, and returned to France exhausted and in a rather skeletal state.
After a period of convalescence, he was sent again to Bayonne first parachute commando colonial half-brigade in November 1954. Appointed staff sergeant in April 1955, he integrated the 8th RPC on May 1, 1956. He participated within the 8th RPC and then within the 3rd RPC in the pacifying operations in the East Constantinois zone. He distinguished himself by his audacity and courage during the Djeuf confrontation of February 27, 1958. Appointed warrant officer in October 1958, he made his first trip to Algeria within the 2nd RPIMa, and notably participated in the protection of the Bizerte base in Tunisia. Warrant officer Cassiède left the active service on February 10, 1962.
Lionel Cassiède passed away on December 24, 1979, at Bordeaux, at the age of 52.
Commended 6 times, two of which were in the army order, this great volunteer serviceman was an exemplary, courageous and charismatic leader. He incarnated this generation of foolhardy fellows ready to spill their blood for a cherished ideal. For his heroic profile and human qualities, he stands out as an example for all.
Warrant Officer CASSIEDE was notably a holder of the following decorations :
Second World War cross with 1 bronze star
Overseas operations cross with 2 bars and 2 bronze stars
Military valour cross with 2 bronze stars
Second World War Volunteer Servicemen cross
Resistance star commander cross
Lionel CASSIEDE is the godfather of the 260th batch of Ecole Nationale des Sous-officiers d’Active of Saint Maixent.
Source : Union départementale des médaillés militaires des Landes