(Rick Hickman / Special to the American Press)
Last Modified: Saturday, November 09, 2013 6:17 PM
More than 40 years after his death, 1st Lt. Douglas B. Fournet’s memorial was unveiled to an extensive crowd Saturday at Veterans Memorial Park. The event was hosted by the city of Lake Charles and the Mayor’s Committee for the First Lieutenant Douglas B. Fournet Memorial. The event, attended by residents, service members, family and friends, focused on remembering one of the area’s well-known figures.
Mayor Randy Roach spoke before the unveiling. He said the memorial is a way for the city to show people that it will never forget the sacrifices made by one of its native sons.
“Today we take the opportunity to show them we mean what we say,” Roach said. He went on to say he hopes future generations will visit Veterans Memorial Park and not only think about Fournet’s sacrifices, but envision making an impact in the world in some way of their own.
Fournet’s platoon came under sniper fire as it worked its way uphill in Vietnam’s A Shau Valley. When Fournet realized his right flank man had discovered a mine and that alerting nearby troops would draw the attention of the enemy, Fournet ordered his men to take cover. Taking out his knife, he ran uphill to the mine and using his body as a shield, he tried to cut the control wires.
The mine detonated, killing the 24-year-old instantly. In May 1968, his final act of selflessness saved the lives of the men in his platoon. When the memorial was unveiled, Fournet’s son, Bill, summed up his emotions about seeing the statue of his father in a simple way. While thanking local representatives for their work in creating the memorial, Bill thanked Janie Stine LaCroix for creating the likeness of his father.
“This is the closest I have come to looking him in the eye, and I thank you,” Fournet said.
The memorial is considered the centerpiece of a redesign of the Veterans Memorial Park entry way. After the ceremony, a reception was held in the Contraband Room of the Lake Charles Civic Center.