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State to induct new class of heroes

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Written by John Andrew Prime
jprime@gannett.com 

 

A handful of state war heroes, all but two dead and some hailing from Northwest Louisiana, will join the ranks of inductees into the Louisiana Military Hall of Fame and Museum in Abbeville next month.

The ceremony will be at 2 p.m. May 22 at the museum on the grounds of the Chris Crusta Airport in Abbeville in Vermilion Parish.

The living local hero is retired Air force pilot Lt. Col. George Finck, of Benton, who was awarded the Air Force Cross during the Vietnam War for heroism flying dangerous missions to help resupply a Vietcong-besieged outpost named Duc Lap.

Also living is retired Air Force Col. Charles B. “Chuck” DeBellevue, a native of Lafayette now living in Oklahoma, who served as an F-4 weapon systems officer during the Vietnam War and achieved ace status with six MiG kills, the most of any U.S. flier during that conflict.

“It’s a big honor,” said Finck, who plans to attend the induction ceremony. “I’m very appreciative. It’s a great gesture. But I don’t really consider myself a hero.”

Local inductees now dead are quadruple World War II/Korean War ace Air Force Col. Billy Whisner Jr. of Shreveport; U.S. Air Force Col. Hunter Hackney of Bossier City; and U.S. Navy Rear Adm. Walter T. Griffith of Mansfield.

Hackney’s widow, Patricia, plans to attend the event, and is thankful for the honors the state will render.

“He never talked about it,” she said of her husband’s heroism. “The kids would ask about it and he would say ‘I was just doing my job.'”

The Air Force Cross, the Distinguished Service Cross and the Navy Cross are second only in importance to the Medal of Honor.

Other deceased inductees, with rank at the time of their award, will be:

  • U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Richard F. Abshire, of Abbeville, Navy Cross, killed in action May 5, 1968; 
  • U.S. Marine Corps 2nd Lt. Conrad C. Derouen Jr., of Abbeville, Navy Cross, killed in action July 8, 1944, on Saipan in the Marianas Islands; 
  • U.S. Navy Ensign John Burton Bain, of Franklin, two awards of the Navy Cross, died Sept. 11, 2000; 
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  • U.S. Navy Cdr. Guy P, Bordelon Jr., of Ruston, the Navy’s only Korean War ace, the last ace of the propeller era and recipient of the Navy Cross, died Dec. 19, 2002; 
  • U.S. Navy Rear Adm. Thomas M. Dykers, of New Orleans, two awards of the Navy Cross, died June 1975; 
  • U.S. Navy Rear Adm. Thomas Ryan Jr., of New Orleans, peacetime recipient of the Medal of Honor for heroism during the 1923 Great Kantō earthquake in Yokohama, Japan, and two Navy Cross medals, died Jan. 28, 1970; 
  • U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Steve A. Chappuis, of Rayne, Distinguished Service Cross, died Aug. 19, 2008; 
  • U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Raymond Hufft, of New Orleans, Distinguished Service Cross, died August 1972; 
  • U.S. Army Air Corps 1st Lt. Joseph Verbis LaFleur, of Opelousas, Distinguished Service Cross, a chaplain, who refused to leave his men, was taken prisoner by the Japanese and died in September 1944 when the Japanese POW ship Shinyo Maru was attacked and sunk by U.S. aircraft. 
  • U.S. Army 1st Lt. Hermann Moyse, of St. Gabriel, World War I Distinguished Service Cross, died Nov. 21, 1985. 
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Written by demon53

April 21, 2011 at 4:09 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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