LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - We all know how few World War II veterans are left, which made it all the more poignant to see one from Southwest Louisiana receive France’s highest honor.
Dignitaries from around the state, along with the veteran’s family and friends came to the SWLA War Veterans home in Jennings to greet France’s new ambassador to the United States, Philippe Etienne.
On his first trip to Louisiana, he’s here to honor WWII veteran Lawrence Boudreaux, who served at Normandy.
“We want to pay tribute to you and to all the American veterans who liberated France and Europe for your courage, honor and sense of duty in our fight for the values both our countries stand for: liberty, justice, democracy and human dignity--shared values that united our countries and guide, still today, our nations,” said Etienne.
The ambassador thanked all those from America who fought and told Boudreaux what the medal conveys.
“That will say to your comrades, to your families, to your fellow citizens, that he who wears it is a man of courage,” he said.
It was moving as the ambassador pinned the medal on Boudreaux who, at the age of 97, is one of so few WWII heroes who remain.
After so many years, Boudreaux remembers well those historic days in the fight against tyranny.
“Our mission was to get to the bridge to save the bridge...and we got there before the enemy, so we saved the bridge and we stayed 73 days on the front line there,” he spoke, of one of his battles.
“We were surrounded by the enemy for six days, and General Patton came on his Third Army and we stayed 30 days and General Patton got us where we could get supplies and ammunition,” said Boudreaux.
Thoughts he passes along to those who are young:
“Combat is not good but sometimes you got to do it to save your country,” said Boudreaux.
Private First Class Boudreaux was inducted into the United States Army on February 9, 1943. His military occupational specialty was that of a ‘Cannoneer’ but served in the Infantry as a member of Company "I", 289th Infantry. His battles and campaigns include Normandy, Ardennes, Rhineland and Central Europe.
Besides the Legion of Honor, which is France’s most prestigious decoration, Boudreaux’s decorations and citations include: European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal (EAMETO), Good Conduct Medal, Purple Heart Medal, Bronze Star Medal, Distinguished Unit Badge, Bronze Arrowhead, World War II Victory Medal. Private Boudreaux received wounds in action: EAMETO, June 9, 1944.
Boudreaux arrived in the European theater of operations on September 15, 1943 and arrived Back in the USA on November 26, 1945.
He received an Honorable Discharge from the United States Army and was separated at Camp Shelby, Mississippi on December 4, 1945.
Boudreaux was married to the love of his life, Lou Lou for 68 years until she passed in 2017. He was born in Church Point in 1922.
Boudreaux also served as Welsh police chief at one time