Veterans Day is observed annually on Nov. 11 and honors those who serve. In a day set aside as a blanket thank-you, it’s possible to acknowledge a few homegrown heroes, as well.
Like Infantryman Sid Hardy, of Breaux Bridge, who landed at Normandy Beach, and Henry Stanley, of Jeanerette, who lied about his age to join the Navy and fought at the invasion of Okinawa. St. Martinville native Troy Landry, a former Marine turned adviser and still working in Kabul, whose convoy was 30 minutes behind a suicide car bombing. And Vietnam and Gulf War veterans Chris Bourg and Marie Cole Ballou, who are battling the residual effects of Agent Orange and Gulf War syndrome. We fight on many fronts, and often those abroad are easier than the ones at home.
Already America’s toughest, you could say veterans are on a mission without an end.
Such is Ryland Choate, deployed for a year in Afghanistan where he received a Bronze Star with Valor. A 16-hour firefight cost the lives of two platoon sergeants and earned him the citation that hangs on his wall. Formerly a patrolman in local law enforcement, he’s been on military leave from the Lafayette’ Sheriff’s Office since May 2016 and currently serves on the Louisiana National Guard Counterdrug Task Force. He is also a chaplain’s assistant in the Air Guard and seeks to help others like himself.
His military experience plus the veteran-related calls in his law enforcement capacity gave him the idea to start Veterans Peer Support, Inc. “I was working the road and calls would come,” Choate said. In the meantime, he pitches brotherhood and sisterhood, unity and don’t give up.
“I’m a one-team, one-fight kind of guy,” he said.
And lest we forget, we’re all in that fight. Tyranny is never really eradicated, and like bad grass, it just springs up elsewhere.
The mission is never over.
Patricia Gannon covers society for The Acadiana Advocate. She can be reached at Fete@theadvocate.com.
Counting Their Blessings
That was the theme as Lourdes Foundation held their “Blessings Soiree” in the Meditation Garden at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital. They were blessed with perfect fall weather and generous guests, not the least of which were sponsors Van Eaton & Romero and Elder Outreach, host committee members Emily and Charlie Babineaux, Dr. Scott Gauthreaux, CEO Bryan Lee, Jim and Ruth Moncus and Renee Reaux, who secured the hand-painted Champagne bottles. Live music, a silent auction and a VIP cocktail party added to the entertainment. “It’s our major fundraiser,” said development director Yvette Davis. “Money raised goes to our community outreach programs — St. Bernadette Clinic, Northside High Health Center, and Congregational Health Services.”
Connections, a networking organization for women, gathered in the courtyard of Café Vermilionville for fall cocktails. “We have a fall social and a spring social,” said President Rebecca Landry. “It gives everyone a break from luncheons.” Making a drink stop on the way home from work — or on their way to LAGCOE — were Lori Cody, Carol Trosclair, Renee Ory, Betty Saunier and pretty-in-pumpkin Cynthia Comeaux. As an added bonus, we happened to get a rare glimpse of New Iberia boy Johnny Indest and friends, making his own connections in Café V’s small but mighty bar.
The men of Triton hosted a Halloween party at River Oaks, and if there were tricks, we didn’t see them. It was a royalty party for the krewe, and most members were in costume, including King Triton William Ritchey, the mad doctor, and Queen Triton, Lesley Maxwell, who wore a tulle bustle and her crown. Maxwell’s pedigree goes back a ways — a Triton maid 30 years ago and her father was an original member — that’s royalty if we ever heard it. In the spirit were birds of a feather Debra and Carl Sonnier, Kelly and Sandy Huval, krewe Captain Vaughn Swilley and Sabino “Border Patrol” Chavez, who had the “it” costume.