A federal holiday since President Woodrow Wilson's time, Veterans Day is an annual reminder to honor our servicemen and women.

Only two things safeguard our society from tyranny — a free press and a large standing military — and it is incumbent upon us to recognize those both old and young who served with courage and honor.

Erath native son Joshua Buck, 33, who deployed to Iraq in 2010 with the National Guard, returned with a Purple Heart. He was stationed in Bagdad as convoy security for nine months, but was wounded early on. He still answers questions with military brevity.

“It was definitely an experience, seeing how they live and how fortunate we are,” said Buck, who now works offshore for Frank’s International. “An experience from start to finish.”

He is quiet about his Purple Heart, the oldest military decoration still given to U.S. military members. It is awarded to those in the armed forces who are wounded in war at the hands of the enemy and posthumously to the next of kin in the name of those who are killed in action. It is specifically a combat decoration.

Former Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Martin Audiffred remembers all too clearly the September day in 1969 when he left his bride for boot camp during the Vietnam war.

“We were told to strip and put everything in a box — clothes, shoes, socks, everything we came with — and were issued Navy clothes. I didn’t know for about four weeks, the first time you could call home, that the box was mailed and when my wife opened it, she thought I was dead.”

Audiffred served as a communications officer where the slightest error could cause a critical incident. He remembers the sound of B-52 bombers taking off day and night. He also remembers in detail those who crossed his path like ships in the night, and the metal bracelet bearing the name and date of a Marine MIA that he still has.

But most of all, he remembers those who didn’t come back and the names etched on the wall in Washington, D.C.

And so must we.


Patricia Gannon covers society for the Acadiana Advocate.  She can be reached at Fete@theadvocate.com.

Outstanding Alumni

The University of Louisiana at Lafayette honored its own with a posh cocktail social at the Alumni House. Recognized for bringing glory to the alma mater were Jan Hargrave, a University of Houston adjunct professor; tech entrepreneur and CEO John "Jack" Peck and Shawn Wilson, secretary of the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development, who received the highest accolades. "We select both local and regionally through an awards committee," said Jennifer LeMeunier, executive director of the alumni association. "Honorees have brought prestige to the university by success in their fields through their education here." Among the VIPS were secretary of the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Jack Montoucet, Don Landry, Warren Perrin and past Alumni Association presidents Gene Lognion, Angela Morrison and Marty Audiffred.

Meet 'n' Greet

Detroit Tiger outfielder Mikie Mahtook mugged for photos and signed autographs at the Petroleum Club. An LSU graduate who also played for the Tampa Bay Rays, Mahtook held court while next door, court was adjourned as attorneys held their own social. Colleagues discussed their profession and ethics, and first on the scene was Matt Reed with Gordon McKernan and David Kobetz, of Neuner-Pate.

New Kid on the Block

Standard Title has joined the visual arts community with an exhibition by Michael Eble and Alex Vidos. Vidos showed her work from 2018 and said she’s still in the process of exploring color as motion. “We just wanted to incorporate local art into the workspace and trying to find as many ways as possible,” said spokeswoman Katie Bernhardt. The net effect was impressive, all works are for sale, and Standard Title is crazy if they don’t snap some up for themselves.

Art-Wise

The Episcopal Church of the Ascension sponsored an opening exhibit of hand-painted tiles taken from the roof of an original A. Hays Town building. When the roof was replaced this summer, some of the tiles were saved and given to local artists to use as a canvas and are now on view at Lue Svendson Gallery. “We’re thrilled we have 100 slates,” said spokeswoman Honey Becker. “They were moldy and dirty, 45 artists participated, and proceeds from their sale will be used for Outreach and In-Reach at Ascension.” Guests enjoyed wine and cheese, and among the 45 doing their share were Svendson, Terry Palmer, Jerome Weber, Bonnie Camos, Michael Eble and Gordon Brooks.

Spellbound

It was a dark and stormy night for real as the Acadiana Symphony Orchestra staged some music and mischief at the Heymann Center. “Spellbound” wove old and new, Harry Potter themes as well as Peer Gynt and the Danse Macabre, while renowned master illusionist Michael Grandinetti performed his magic. “I will perhaps disappear for a while, but I will return,” said Maestro Mariusz Smolij upstairs in the VIP lounge. Also enjoying some pre-performance pick-me-ups were Dr. Gary and Johnette Frentz, the long-lost Skip Palmintier, Kamila Smolij, coven-ready Penny Edwards and Veronica Rodrigue.

Getting their Halloween on also was Parc Gardens, hosting a costume and karaoke party. We're guessing the music was a bit less classical than above, but enjoying it nonetheless were Jay and Margaret Ruffin, Paul Landry, Donna Matthews and Alayne Bonnette. 

I Do

Friends and family gathered for an “I do“ barbecue for Eric Svendson and Emily Lewis. Katy and Lawrence Svendson hosted in their backyard, the night sky was filled with stars, the backyard with little twinkling lights, and guests enjoyed barbecue, Catahoula coolers, blueberry cobbler and s’mores with a campfire. Friends showered the new couple with unwrapped gifts to save the trees. We have it on good authority that the eco- friendly couple had a wonderful time.