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RENE VENDRINE - CAPTAIN

Rene Vendrine

No documentary of the Lost Squadron would be complete without at least a passing mention of Capt. Rene "The Mountie" Vendrine. Possessing impeccable taste, charm, grace, boyish good looks and more than a touch of nattiness, Vendrine was the antithesis of the average French Fighter Pilot and of even the average Frenchman. Finding himself among the rapacious rapscallions of the Lost Squadron Rene must have truly felt like a stork out of water.

Rene was one of Frances most promising aces and had only recently been promoted to captain and made an official member of the Fames Le Cigones when he found himself unceremoniously assigned the unpleasant task of retrieving Jacque "The Mole" Levesque.

 

His formative years had been spent living in the shadow of the symestrian monastery in the amidst the forests of Saulcy sur Meurthe. Here, while the other boys would run through the forests playing fieldgrau and poulius, Rene would delight himself erecting miles and miles of "blaze orange" fencing around his father’s property. Once finished he would immerse himself in his studies of ancient wheelbarrows and medieval buckets. This same scene was replayed daily. That he never caused his parents even the slightest bit of concern or problem, might be the deepest wish of all parents. However, very this fact concerned the elder Vendrine greatly. There was one brief ray of hope for Rene’s father. At one point during Rene’s adolescence, his father was all but assured his son would bring scandal to his name and thus prove himself to be a true Frenchman.

It is reported that at the age of 15, the young Rene had taken to helping the nuns from the nearby convent sew quilts for the needy. It was assumed by the elder Vendrine, that the boy was simply trying to corrupt one or, hopefully more, of the younger, more attractive nuns. Rene’s father was doubly heartbroken when he discovered that not only was his son not trying to seduce the nuns, but that Rene actually found great pleasure in the needlepoint. This was more than the man could take and Rene was immediately enrolled in the military school in nearby Vosge.

It was apparently the elder Vendrine's contention that if the French army could not suitably corrupt the young man then, it could not be done. To no one’s surprise and most people's mild annoyance, Rene excelled in all his studies and extra curricular activities. Upon his graduation from the academy Rene was commissioned a 2' Lt. in the newly formed Aviation Militaire where he felt his extensive knowledge of 14th century bucketry would prove invaluable. Not surprisingly, it did not. However, in keeping with his predictably over achieving nature he soon overcame this initial setback and was soon scoring impressive victories in the skies over Westrobeke. Performance reports, however, detail the mostly annoying habit of Rene landing his aeroplane near his victims remains and spending valuable time "just tidying up the crash scene a bit". In his defense Rene testified that he did not want the be accused of not cleaning up a mess if he had made it.

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Had his tenure at the front been longer, he may have been a rival to the great Nungesser or even Fonck. However this was not to be. After his posting to Le Cigones the more senior members of the squadron, in keeping with regimental tradition, escorted Rene to one of the many bawdy houses in the area. Vendrine was incensed by his drunken compatriots behavior and insisted they apologize to the women and give the business establishment a good scrubbing as penance. Knowledge of this incident was not long in reaching the ears of the squadron commander who prudently realized that Rene’s life may very well be in danger from his fellow pilots and unceremoniously had him re-assigned.

It was not long before it was clear to all involved that Rene's behavior would continually degrade morale in what ever squadron he was placed. Rene, at one time, even went so far to suggest that his brothers in arms take to laundering their undergarments on a regular basis. This was more than even the normally tolerant French authorities could accept. It was decided that in the interest of patriotism, and Frenchmen everywhere, Vendrine would be given an assignment that would take him far from the flying fields of France.

Rene would be assigned to capture the notorious traitor, Jacques Levesque. In only a matter of weeks Vendrine had tracked down Levesque., It was noted that sheer genius was applied to this case. With deep insight, Vendrine simply traced the reports of lost or stolen cats and soon discovered that Levesque was hiding out with the fabled "Lost Squadron" and was once more manufacturing FC151.

Within hours off his arrival, Rene was discovered by Pinkie Heep hosting an impromptu seminar on the importance of good table manners. Even Cmdr Clive Heydor-Whetwissel, who was regarded as the most civilized and hygienic of the group found Rene's puritanical habits somewhat disturbing. Before passing out from a "wee dram" of FC151, he is reported to have remarked to Heep: "If we needed a bleedin’ Mountie, why do we have all the sheep?" the precise meaning of which is lost to time.

From that day forward Rene was known indifferently as "The Mountie". It had been thought by all involved that Rene's stay with the LS would be mercifully short and that he would return to France with "The Mole" in chains and be done with the whole affair. However, it seems that fate had other plans. That perversion of fate is a topic that will be covered in later chapters entitled "The Mountie and the Mole" and "The Pressing Of McTavish’s Kilt"

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