Service and sacrifice were the bywords in Lafayette and Abbeville on Saturday
during programs shining a spotlight on Louisiana's military veterans.
Veterans Appreciation Day offered friends and family the chance to say thank
you to veterans for America's freedom in speeches, song and a meal at N.P. Moss
Middle School, while the Louisiana Military Hall of Fame and Museum in Abbeville
completed its list of 14 Medal of Honor recipients with five inductees.
"Veterans Day has passed, but we are still here to celebrate it and the freedoms
provided by our veterans," said Maj. Gen. Hunt Downer, U.S. Army (Ret.), who was
among speakers at the Moss event.
"You have to know where you've been, and know where you are, to know where you're
going," Downer added. "World War I is where we've been. Honoring our veterans today
is where we are."
He then looked at Andrea Stephens, a granddaughter of three Vietnam veterans
who led the Pledge of Allegiance, and said, "and Andrea Stephens is where we're
going. Isn't this a great country?"
"The proof is not in rhetoric, but in the eyes of the soldiers, sailors and airmen
who never waivered in defense of our freedom," said Daniel Bentley, a former honor
guardsman of Arlington National Cemetery.
"And our responsibility to them goes beyond one day of celebration. We have to
make sure each comes home to a life of dignity and accessible health care."
U.S. Rep. Charles Boustany was on hand at Chris Crusta Airport in Abbeville to
help present Gen. Bob LeBlanc with a Bronze Star some 66 years after LeBlanc was
initially recommended for the honor for his service with the OSS in France in World
"It is indeed a pleasure after such a long time waiting," said LeBlanc, who credits
Boustany with clearing up red tape and dealing with recently declassified material
on LeBlanc's behalf.
"General LeBlanc served valiantly in France in World War II, and has continued
to serve his state and his country," Boustany said. "He set the bar for emergency
The remainder of the Abbeville program was focused on Medal of Honor recipients
Pfc. James Diamond, Army; 2nd Lt. Lloyd Herbert Hughes, Army; Col. John Riley Kane,
Air Force; Chief Warrant Officer Michael Novosel, Army; and Col. Edward Schowalter,
Hughes and Kane flew B-24 Liberator bombers in the famous low-altitude Ploesti
Raid over Nazi oil refineries in Romania during World War II.
Since Hughes flew in the final formation, the enemy was alerted to his bombing
run. But he chose to press on with a damaged aircraft to complete his mission.
Kane, too pressed on, after becoming separated from formation. Another group
had hit his target, but he found other targets to hit.
The pair lost their lives in the raid, joining some 400 other airmen killed that
Novosel flew in World War II, Korea and Vietnam, accumulating some 60 air medals.
He served two tours of duty in Vietnam and helped save more than 5,500 comrades
and allies in more than 2,000 rescue missions.
Schowalter was a company commander in Korea who spearheaded an assault on the
enemy despite being wounded twice, refusing aid until the area was secure.
A machine gunner in the Philippines in World War II, Diamond captured a Japanese
machine gun emplacement, drawing gunfire to help assure his troops' safety.
"These were ordinary people thrust into extraordinary circumstances," said Col.
Roland Guidry. "They were ordinary men, extraordinary heroes who unhesitatingly
said, 'send me.'"
Note: The fourteen Inductees were honored with their likenesses etched on polished
black granite plaques. Families of the inductees or a representative
were presented with a small replica of the plaque.
Source: Internet web page: "Ceremonies
note sacrifice and heroism" dated 14 Nov 2010 by Bruce Brown in the
The Advertiser, Lafayette, Louisiana,