Will Smith visits Jordan’s Petra with ‘Aladdin’ crew

Will Smith visited Petra in Jordan with his crew on Wednesday.
Updated 09 November 2017
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Will Smith visits Jordan’s Petra with ‘Aladdin’ crew

JEDDAH: US star Will Smith has thanked the royal family and people of Jordan for taking “perfect care of us.” Smith, who arrived this week in Aqaba for shooting Disney’s “Aladdin” visited Petra with his crew on Wednesday.
“We’re shooting Aladdin in Jordan. Took my crew to see PETRA! It’s been on my Bucket List for about 20 years. IT’S CRAZY! Special ‘Thank You’ to the Royal Family & to the people of Jordan. You all took PERFECT CARE of us. We Shall Return!” the “Men in Black” star wrote on Facebook, posting a group photo of the trip.
Earlier, Al-Rai newspaper quoted Commissioner of Tourism and Commerce at the Aqaba authority’s special economy unit, Sharhabil Madi as saying that Smith’s visit was related to the filming of “Aladdin,” in which the latter plays the role of the Genie.
Madi added that attracting famous international figures to Aqaba comes within the framework of the authority’s plan to promote the region as a safe tourist and economic destination.
“The authority has to take advantage of the presence of such artistic figures who are filming global films watched by hundreds of millions around the world and bearing the name of the place where these films are produced. Aqaba today gained international fame due to these works of art,” he said.
He added: “There will be dozens of artists and international foreign and Arab stars participating in the production of Aladdin, which is being filmed in the ‘Valley of the Moon Wadi Rum’ for a period of up to two months.”
Smith was also photographed having dinner at a restaurant in Aqaba.
Many Jordanians on social media welcomed the actor and his crew to their country.
Hisham Ayyash wrote: “Jordan and Jordanians love you and we were honored to have you in Jordan. We will be waiting for your next trip to us! To everyone and on behalf of all Jordanians, please count Jordan as your 2nd home any time!”
“We are honored to host your new film Mr. Smith, hope you have a blast in Jordan and take a glimpse at the true Middle Eastern culture away from the noise of American mainstream media. Make sure to try mansaf (traditional Jordanian dish),” wrote Shadi Hawari.


Twin brothers reunited 74 years after WWII death at Normandy

Family members lay flowers on the casket of WWII US Navy sailor Julius Pieper during a reburial service at the Normandy American Cemetery, Colleville-sur-Mer, France, Tuesday, June 19, 2018. (AP)
Updated 19 June 2018
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Twin brothers reunited 74 years after WWII death at Normandy

  • The story of how the twins died and were being reunited reflects the daily courage of troops on a mission to save the world from the Nazis and the tenacity of today’s military to ensure that no soldier goes unaccounted for
  • "They are finally together again, side by side, where they should be,”

COLLEVILLE-SUR-MER, France: For decades, he was known only as Unknown X-9352 at a World War II American cemetery in Belgium where he was interred.
Today, he has recovered his identity — and was being reunited with his twin brother in Normandy, where the two Navy men died together when their ship shattered on an underwater mine while trying to reach the blood-soaked D-Day beaches.
Julius Heinrich Otto “Henry” Pieper and Ludwig Julius Wilhelm “Louie” Pieper, two 19-year-olds from Esmond, South Dakota, will rest in peace side-by-side later Tuesday at the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial in France, 74 years after their deaths on June 19, 1944.
While Louie’s body was soon found, identified and laid to rest, his brother’s remains were only recovered in 1961 by French salvage divers and not identified until 2017.
They will be the 45th pair of brothers at the cemetery, three of them memorialized on the Walls of the Missing at the cemetery. But the Piepers will be the only set of twins among the more than 9,380 graves, according to the American Battle Monuments Commission.
Julius, radioman second class like his brother, was being buried with full military honors at the cemetery, an immaculate field of crosses and stars of David. The site overlooks the English Channel and Omaha Beach, the bloodiest of the Normandy landing beaches of Operation Overlord, the first step in breaching Hitler’s stranglehold on France and Europe. Family members were in attendance.

Twin brothers Julius Pieper, left, and Ludwig Pieper in their US Navy uniforms.
Twin brothers Julius Pieper, left, and Ludwig Pieper in their US Navy uniforms. (AP)

“They are finally together again, side by side, where they should be,” said their niece, Susan Lawrence, 56, of California.
“They were always together. They were the best of friends,” said Lawrence. “Mom told me a story one time when one of the twins had gotten hurt on the job and the other twin had gotten hurt on the job, same day and almost the same time.”
The story of how the twins died and were being reunited reflects the daily courage of troops on a mission to save the world from the Nazis and the tenacity of today’s military to ensure that no soldier goes unaccounted for.
The Pieper twins, born of German immigrant parents, worked together for Burlington Railroad and enlisted together in the Navy. Both were radio operators and both were on the same unwieldy flat-bottom boat, Landing Ship Tank Number 523 (LST-523), making the Channel crossing from Falmouth, England, to Utah Beach 13 days after the June 6 D-Day landings.
The LST-523 mission was to deliver supplies at the Normandy beachhead and remove the wounded. It never got there.
The vessel struck an underwater mine and sank off the coast. Of the 145 Navy crew members, 117 were found perished. Survivors’ accounts speak of a major storm on the Channel with pitched waves that tossed the boat mercilessly before the explosion that shattered the vessel.
Louie’s body was laid to rest in what now is the Normandy American Cemetery. But the remains of Julius were only recovered in 1961 by French divers who found them in the vessel’s radio room. He was interred as an “Unknown” at the Ardennes American Cemetery in Neuville, Belgium, also devoted to the fallen of World War II, in the region that saw the bloody Battle of the Bulge.
Julius’ remains might have stayed among those of 13 other troops from the doomed LST-523 still resting unidentified at the Ardennes cemetery. But in 2017, a US agency that tracks missing combatants using witness accounts and DNA testing identified him.
The Pieper family asked that Louie’s grave in Normandy be relocated to make room for his twin brother at his side.
The last time the United States buried a soldier who fought in World War II was in 2005, at the Ardennes American Cemetery, according to the American Battle Monuments Commission.