Wednesday, June 9, 2004. 9:16am (AEST)
Chirac gives lost Kiwi veteran a lift to Paris
French President Jacques Chirac gave a D-day veteran a lift back to Paris in one of his jets after the New Zealander got lost following Sunday's ceremonies in northern France to honour World War Two Allied troops.
Keith Coleman hopped on a coach after the main international ceremony in Arromanches to mark the 60th anniversary of the D-day landings in Normandy.
But instead of taking him back to the French capital, he ended up at a remote military airfield where all the other veterans got on a plane.
"There was this important-looking guy wearing gold braid who I told my story to and I guess he must have felt sorry for me because he made a few phone calls and told me he thought he could get me back to Paris," Mr Coleman, who speaks no French, told Britain's Guardian
A car whisked the 86-year-old former gunner with Britain's Royal Air Force to another airfield, where two jets were waiting.
A cavalcade pulled up and the French President got out.
"He came over ... I snapped to attention and gave him a little salute ... he put his arm round me," Mr Coleman told the paper.
"He said he would be happy for me to travel in one of the aeroplanes and gave instructions that I was to be driven to the door of my hotel."