LaPlace VFW bestows honors

Published 12:00 am Saturday, December 15, 2012

By Chrissy Carter
Contributing Writer

LAPLACE – It was a night filled of service and gratitude as VFW Post 3337 honored dedicated community members of St. John the Baptist Parish.

The ceremony was held Tuesday at the VFW Hall in LaPlace, where veterans gathered together to give back to the community.

“It’s the community that supports the veterans, so this is our chance to turn around and support the community,” said VFW Foot Solider Gene Franques.

The night started in traditional Christmas fashion as Santa Claus, represented by St. John the Baptist Parish Deputy Johnny Sullivan, welcomed the crowd with a huge smile as he handed out goodies.

The “Brady Bunch” including Jimmy Brady, John Brady, Mike Brady, Bobby Brady, Billy Brady, and David Clement volunteered their time and Cajun style cooking skills to this year’s event.

“Tonight we have a delicious Christmas dinner of turkey, pork loins, dressing, green beans and bread budding, “ said Jimmy Brady. “We love helping our community and honoring our veterans.”

The bartender for the evening was 91-year-old WWII veteran Bryant Strickland. Strickland spent three consecutive years serving the country in Europe and completed seven amphibious landings.

“Mr. Strickland dedicates his time every Monday night with Bingo at the VFW and cleans up the hall every Tuesday morning,” said Quarter Master Wesley Mitchell. “He continues to serve his country no matter what and is a true example of an American war hero.”

The ceremony started with a prayer of thanksgiving led by VFW Chaplin Dave Gatt and the Pledge of Allegiance. Soon after, Post Commander Elvin Bass kicked off the ceremony by presenting the first award of the night to Riverside’s Linda Roundtree as Teacher of the Year. Pastor Neil Bernard of New Wine Christian Fellowship Church was awarded a plaque of appreciation along with a $500 check.

“I am honored and humbled to be here tonight. Freedom is never free, and it’s times of adversity that bring us all here together,” said Bernard.

In a touching tribute to the St. John the Baptist Parish Sheriff’s Office, the VFW honored St. John the Baptist Parish Deputies Jeremy Triche, Brandon Nielson, Jason Triche and Michael Scott Boyington for their dedication and sacrifices to community’s safety.

Deputies Jeremy Triche and Nielson were killed after being ambushed earlier this year. Jason Triche and Boyington are currently recovering from the attack. Sgt. Marshall Carmouche of the Sheriff’s Office accepted the awards on behalf of the officers and was presented with a $1,000 check.

“Words alone cannot describe how much we appreciate the VFW for their service to the community,” said Carmouche.

Riverside Principal Perry DiCarlo was also recognized for his outstanding leadership in the parish, and the VFW’s very own Quarter Master Wesley Mitchell was honored for his work in the community.

Not only did the VFW recognize teachers, police officers, and other community members, but also students.  Rhonda Mitchell was named the Patriot Pen homeschool winner, and her sister Robyn Mitchell was chosen for the second consecutive year as the VFW’s Voice of Democracy Homeschool winner.