Military May: How Bossier Groups Honor Our Military Veterans

On the last Monday of each May, America observes Memorial Day, a tribute to veterans who lost their lives in service. General Ulysses S. Grant presided over the first “flag-in” ceremony in 1868, lowering the U.S. flag to half-staff and placing flags on each grave at Arlington Cemetery. Memorial Day became a national holiday in 1971. Since 2000, many citizens have observed a minute of silence at 3 p.m.

Members of Bossier’s Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 4588 will observe the day by participating in two ceremonies. “On Saturday, May 25th at 0800, we will go to Hill Crest Memorial Park in Haughton and place 3,000 flags on the graves of the veterans,” said Randy Campbell, Post Commander and 20-year Navy veteran. 

“On the 27th of May at 0800, we will attend the Hill Crest Memorial Service and lay a wreath for the veterans,” said Campbell.

Charles Gholson of Hill Crest said around 300 people, including 30 veterans groups, are expected to attend the 8:00 a.m. event, which lasts about an hour. A golf cart can ferry people from their cars to the seating area at the amphitheater, Gholson said.

Guest speaker Air Force veteran Ron Delaney, who served in Desert Storm and Korea, is State Commander of the VFW for the state of Louisiana.

“There are 10,030 VFW members in the state and 325 members in Post 4588,” said Delaney. Post 4588 has supported and participated in the Hill Crest ceremony for all 46 years it has been held.

Post 4588 will also attend the Northwest Louisiana Veterans Cemetery memorial service in Keithville at 11:00 a.m. and lay a wreath for the veterans. Both services are open to the public.

Remembering WWII

Bossier History Center’s “World War IIs-day” group meets from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. the second Tuesday of each month and is open to anyone interested in World War II. 

David Caldwell of Bossier City, a former Air Force Reserve M.P, suggested forming such a program to Pamela Carlisle, Bossier History Center’s Outreach Historian, who agreed and became program coordinator. “We need to remember,” said Caldwell, whose cousin Woodrow Woods died in his Army tank in France after destroying two German tanks.

There is a different guest speaker each month and members often stay to talk. At May’s meeting, Barbara Joseph, Executive Director of the North Louisiana Jewish Federation, spoke about Jewish Partisan Resistance. The next meeting is June 11th.

A display of artifacts from WWI, WWII and Vietnam is displayed in the History Center, and includes equipment, documents, uniforms and a POW/MIA bracelet donated by Janis Gauthier and inscribed “Capt. William Butler 11-20-67”. Thousands of citizens wore the bracelets in the 1970s to honor soldiers captured or missing in Vietnam.

Butler was shot down on November 20, 1967, and held captive until March 14, 1973. Gauthier and her late husband, former Bossier Police Chief Bobby Gauthier, a survival skills trainer to pilots headed to Vietnam, each wore the Butler bracelets. Butler’s heroism as a F-105 pilot with the 44th Tactical Fighter Squadron earned him two Silver Stars, the Legion of Merit and numerous other medals. He is buried in Arlington Cemetery.

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