Jean Louis Delayen was born on 16 March 1921 at Saint Raphael, in the Var.
He spent the first part of his life in Morocco and then Indochina, countries where his father, a soldier in the Naval Infantry, worked. In 1935, he enrolled in the Military School, where he was schooling when the German troops invaded France. In 1940, he deserted the school with the intention of fleeing to England, but found himself in Morocco where he joined the 6th Senegalese Infantrymen regiment, and thereafter the RICM (Armoured Marine Infantry Regiment).
The French campaign began for him with the landing in Provence and the liberation of Toulon in August 1944. After crossing the Rhine in November 1944 with his unit, the senior officer cadet Delayen was seriously wounded, thus spending several months in hospital.
In 1945, Second Lieutenant Delayen left for Indochina with the RICM. He was wounded again and promoted to Lieutenant in 1946. Both of his stays spanned from 1949 to 1955 during which he was Leader of Commandos, RICM, North Vietnam, Commando 13, and also carried out several raids on Vietnamese positions.
Haïphong, 1954 - Captain Delayen leading the North Vietnamese
commando parade, in black military attire
At the end of 1955, Captain Delayen went to serve in Algeria. Initially sent to the "Centre d'instruction amphibie d'Arzew", Delayen was dispatched to the Moroccan borders with the DBFM. There, he trained Commando Yatagan, whose strength essentially comprised Muslim volunteers and fake Fellagha men. He led these men for three years in counterinsurgency operations. In 1959, Commander Delayen, after obtaining a certificate in parachute in Pau, returned to Kabylia to take command of "Groupement de Commandos de chasse d’Akfadou".
Early 1962, he left for Tahiti where he took command of the Naval Infantry Battalion. In 1965, at the end of his stay, he returned to Metropolitan France where he was promoted to Lieutenant-Colonel. He was transferred to Lorient, and spent a year of internship with the US Marine before returning to Brest to command the 2nd RIMa.
In 1972, when war broke out in Chad, Colonel Delayen was sent to N'Djamena where he served under French and Chadian generals and commanders-in-chief. In 1977, Brigadier General Delayen returned to France and retired a year later.
His civil life started in Paris, on his barge moored to the Concorde Bridge. Thereafter, in 1982, he moved to USA to settle with his American wife and son. He became speaker, notably for the American Marine and Special Forces. President of French Reserve Officers, Washington region, founder of the National Association of North Vietnam Commandos, he shuttled between the United States and his St Raphael apartment.
Jean Louis Delayen died of heart attack in October 2003 in the United States of America. His funeral took place at Saint-Raphael on 15 October, in the presence of several dignitaries and those who admired his human qualities, notably his simplicity in life. He received military honours at Notre-Dame de La Victoire square, where the bigors of the 3rd RAMa sang, for the last time, Marie-Dominique to him, as he had wished. He was buried at Saint-Raphael cemetery.
Great cross of the Legion of Honour, having been wounded three times, commended19 times including 11 with bar, this marine to the core, who always proudly spotted the stripes of his chief quartermaster rank, won, during his four wars, several decorations, notably the Second World War cross, the Overseas Operations War cross, the Military Valour cross, including 11 with bar and the Servicemen cross. He will be remembered as a man of pure and selfless conviction who devoted his life to the service of his country, France.