Tribute show of support _lowres

Advocate file photo -- Bailey Purvis belts out a tune in last year's musical salute to U.S. troops hosted by the Ascension Veterans Associations at the Gonzales Civic Center.

GONZALES— As members of the Louisiana National Guard’s 922nd Engineer Company were settling in at Camp Beauregard for a few weeks of training, more than 300 people came together Jan. 3 in the Gonzales Civic Center to show their support for the Gonzales-based unit.

The USO-style show featured Ned Fasullo and the Fabulous Big Band Orchestra and performances from current and former students of Center Stage Performing Arts Academy.

Several area veterans groups joined forces to create the Ascension Veterans Associations “so we could do something to show our support for the troops during their deployment,” Brent Gautreau, the chairman of the group, said.

Gautreau said he was pleased the show was a sellout.

“From the beginning, the community and businesses came together to show their support for the troops,” Gautreau said.

Gautreau is an employee of Motiva, the company that donated the food for the program and served as a major sponsor.

Money from the show and other events planned for later this year will be used to purchase and ship care packages to the guardsmen during their yearlong deployment to Kuwait, Gautreau said.

The unit will be departing for Fort Bliss, Texas, in a few weeks for mobilization training before leaving for its mission to perform facility engineer operations throughout bases in Kuwait, a spokesman for the guard said in a news release.

Gautreau, the commander of the Gonzales Veterans of Foreign Wars chapter, said “A Musical Tribute for Our Troops” was a good way to show off local talent and “help the troops that give us our freedom.”

Center Stage owner Larry Schexnaydre said he was fortunate to gather a group of his company’s alumni who were home for the holiday break.

“This is what they want to do for a living and there’s so much talent here,” Schexnaydre said as he prepared to hit the stage.

Linda Schexnaydre, Center Stage co-owner, said the students were “quite emotional about doing this show for the troops.”

“The kids were very eager and a little bit emotional when we talked about what we wanted to do,” she said.

Gautreau said the singers and dancers with Center Stage “really put on a great show that we could all be proud of.”

“And, the orchestra was just great,” he said. “I wish we could have this type of entertainment more often.”

Anyone interested in donating items or volunteering to help with the care package program can call Gautreau at (225) 485-7875 or email