Pierre Henri Laizé was born at Tunis, in 1929, in the days when Tunisia was a protectorate.
His military career started at the Saumur Ecole de l'Arme Blindée et de la Cavalerie, in October 1951, where he was trained as a reserve officer. Appointed senior officer cadet, he obtained a parachute licence and joined the 1st Parachute Hussar Regiment, at Auch.
Appointed second lieutenant, he volunteered to go and serve in Indochina, where he was initially sent to the prestigious 6th Colonial Parachute Battalion, commanded by an illustrious leader, Bigeard, whom he admired so much. Bigeard also had much affection for him.
He participated in most of the adventures of this battalion. Initially, he was dropped at Tulé, on October 10, 1952, as the head of a Vietnamese section; he served as the rear guard of the battalion during its withdrawal. Wounded, he refused to be evacuated; he delayed the enemy, inflicted severe losses on him and returned with his complete section to the Muong Chen post. Thanks to this feat, he was commended in the Army order.
In Laos, Luang Prabang, he participated in the checking of the Vietminh offensive, in May 1953. On July 17, 1953, he was dropped at Lang Son, in the heart of the enemy zone, and he was commended in the army corps order.
He was transferred, on November 1, 1953, still as a section boss, to the 7th Vietnamese Parachute Battalion. His stay filled him with much respect for Vietnamese and the highest mistrust for totalitarian initiatives, irrespective of their ideological support.
He was repatriated at the end of this stay, during which he was wounded three times and "bashed in mug", on January 8, 1955.
Transferred to the Castres 13th Dragoon Regiment, he left for Algeria with his regiment, in January 1956. He initially served in Kabylie, near Tizi Ouzou, where he founded the 27th Alpine Division commando.
Having volunteered to serve in the Saharan units, he entered the Saharan Zousfana company, early 1956, where he became the commander of a platoon. In November 1956, he became the head of a carrier platoon. He went to rescue a unit caught by rebels, in the Béchar djebel, and inflicted serious losses on the enemy. In the Ouazzani djebel, in January 1957, he took a gang of rebels by surprise, destroyed it and seized its weapons; he was commended in the army corps order.
On October 17, 1957, as commander of auto-machine gun platoons, in south Algeria, he took yet another gang of rebels by surprise. He destroyed it, shot its leader and seized an automatic rifle; he was commended in the Army order and made Knight of the Legion of Honour.
From 1958 to April 1961, he served in Berlin, within the 11th Chasseur Regiment; he was one of those who made it possible for the Cold War to be won.
In April 1961, he returned to Algeria and was sent to the 8th Spahi Regiment. He was the intelligence officer of the Baraka sector, in the south of Constantinois, where, thanks to his actions, several rebels were disabled and their weapons seized; he was once more commended in the Brigade order, in 1961.
He was subsequently transferred to the 3rd Hussar Regiment within which he returned to France, on January 6, 1963. Upon his request, he reintegrated the SDECE, predecessor of the DGSE, from 1968 to 1972. He was sent to Prague as assistant military attaché, in the heart of the ColdWar, from 1968 to 1972. There, he was promoted squadron commander. After spending time within the 18th Dragoon regiment, in Champagne, he ended his career at the Montpellier 54th Military Division, where he occupied several positions. He was promoted to lieutenant colonel in 1976, officer of the Legion of Honour, in 1978, before going on military retire in 1980.
Unable to rest, Pierre Laizé completely devoted himself to "Gueules Cassées" and Union Nationale des Parachutistes (National Parachute Union). He became the Languedoc-Roussillon delegate, from 1994, giving unselfishly to the most underprivileged, till illness forced him to hand over.
He was promoted to Commander of the Legion of Honour in 2000.
In autumn 2008, Colonel Pierre Laizé passed away in his eightieth year. It was at the Montpellier Grammont mortuary complex that his funeral took place, on October 10, at 2:00 pm. We say "adieu" to Pierre Laizé. Officer of the Legion of Honour, three times wounded, author of five brilliant quotations, overseas operations war cross, military valour cross, and several other awards, he belonged to the disappearing generation which did not revel in words but knew how to take risk to achieve its objectives. A just and devoted man, who was always on the breach; a man of faith and conviction.
General (2s)J. G. SALVAN
"When a parachutist dies,
he doesn’t go to heaven,
he returns there." Jean-Claude Bonnaire