The Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) 3750 West St. Charles sponsored a luncheon on Sunday, October 1, hosting 13 World War II veterans who arrived Friday afternoon in Louisiana to spend the weekend in New Orleans and visit the World War II Museum.
The luncheon, sponsored by both the Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board and Lieutenant Governor Billy Nungesser, featured a variety of local seafood for the veterans to sample, including alligator sauce piquant, crawfish enchiladas, grilled catfish and shrimp along with a selection of deserts supplied by the post’s auxiliary unit.
“This is the third time that we’re taking World War II veterans from the Houston and surrounding areas to New Orleans,” Ingeborg Conley, a Texas-based VFW National Council Member who helped organize the event, said. “It probably will be our last, because they’re getting harder and harder to find [due to] their age and health.”
VFW 3750 Commander Bobby Lovergne said he was pleased with the outcome of the luncheon and welcomed the opportunity to feed and salute the group of WWII veterans.
“We all stood at the end and said, ‘this is what it’s all about, being a part of the VFW to honor that generation,’” Lovergne commented following the event. “It was one of the best things we have done in a long time.”
The VFW 3750 luncheon in Luling was just one leg of an extensive New Orleans all-expenses-paid trip given to the group of WWII veterans from the Houston area, with veterans’ ages ranging from 95 to 100 years old.
The trip started with pick-up early Friday morning in Houston, with continuous county-by-county police escorts until their chartered bus reached the Texas-Louisiana state line. At the state border, Louisiana State Police then picked up escort duties and escorted the veterans’ bus all the way to their downtown New Orleans area hotel accommodations.
During the trip, the veterans became the honored guests of several local area restaurants and were given an exclusive Mississippi River riverboat cruise, followed by an all-day tour of the WWII Museum with live entertainment arranged just for their party. On the way back home, the VFW 3750 of West St. Charles sponsored its Sunday seafood luncheon for the veterans’ group. Stops at a few veteran memorial sites were also sprinkled into their weekend tour.
The cross-state event was completely funded by both the VFW, the American Legion and their various sponsors, covering all meals, lodging and transportation costs for veterans and their chaperones.
“They don’t pay one penny,” Conley said; she took great satisfaction gauging veterans’ positive reactions during the event. “Most of them are not able financially to do a trip like this on their own, so when you see how thankful they are…I will go out and campaign and fundraise as much as I can just to see to how much it means to them, to be able to do this one more time.”
Conley noted much attention is regularly given to veterans of more recent wars such as Afghanistan and Iraq, with WW II veterans becoming oftentimes the older, forgotten soldiers. Still important to our nation, they deserved just as much acknowledgement, she said.
“These are heroes, and there’s not that many left,” Conley, herself a military veteran with 20 years of service, said. “So – we want to make sure that they’re recognized, because they deserve it.”