Rocke and Kevin Fournet pause at their brother's gravesite Monday after a special plaque was unveiled honoring local Congressional Medal of Honor recipient Army First Lieutenant Douglas B. Fournet. Fournet, who is buried at the Kinder-McRill Cemetery, was killed in action May 4, 1968 while serving in Vietnam after he threw himself on top of a Claymore mine to save the lives of his comrades. (Doris Maricle / Americn Press)
Last Modified: Tuesday, February 19, 2013 5:28 PM
KINDER — Medal of Honor recipient Army 1st Lt. Douglas B. Fournet remains a hero nearly 44 years after he sacrificed his own life to save his comrades during Vietnam.
Area veterans and family members remembered Fournet’s valor and sacrifice Monday with the unveiling of a memorial monument at his gravesite in the Kinder-McRill Memorial Cemetery.
“We wanted this to be a way to recognize and honor his memory,” Alvin L. Nevils American Legion Post 244 Adjutant Dr. Mike Karam said. “He has been buried here, but there was nothing really marking his grave. You could hardly find it anymore with all the graves, so we wanted to put a marker up so people could locate his grave.”
The monument can be seen throughout the cemetery, post commander Lowell Keys said.
“We wanted to try to have something that you could be any where in the cemetery and point over here and say ‘That’s where Douglas Fournet is buried, the Medal of Honor recipient,’ ” Keys said.
Fournet, who served as a rifle platoon leader in B Company, 1st Battalion, 7th Calvary, 1st Calvary Division (Airmobile), was killed in action May 4, 1968, after throwing himself on top of a Claymore mine to save the lives of his comrades who were under attack from sniper fire. His family was posthumously presented the Medal of Honor by President Richard Nixon at the White House in April 1970.
“1st Lt. Douglas B. Fournet gave his life so others in his platoon would live,” post chaplain Elliott Fontenot said. “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.”
Fournet was also awarded a Bronze Star Medal and Purple Heart and was inducted into the Louisiana Military Hall of Fame and Museum in Abbeville.
His younger brothers, Rocke and Kevin, were among family members attending the ceremony.
“It’s been a long time, but we appreciate the efforts everyone has made,” Rocke Fournet said. “It is an honor and our family appreciates everything people have done over the many years to honor Douglas who died in 1968. The American public has never let us forget what he did.”
A park in Kinder, a section of Interstate 210 in Lake Charles and a hall at the Southwest Louisiana War Veterans Home in Jennings are named after Fournet. Plans are also under way for a statute honoring him at the Veterans Memorial Park in Lake Charles, Rockey Fournet said.
“This can’t help but bring tears to anyone’s eyes who was in the service, who made the sacrifice,” Kevin Fournet said. “This is a wonderful accolade to my brother.”
Reading from Fournet’s official Medal of Honor citation, Karam said the medal was awarded “ for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty.”
“It’s great to be alive and be free thanks to Douglas Fournet and people like him,” State Vietnam Veterans Association President Terry Courville said.
Courville was in Vietnam when Fournet was killed.
“I was sad to hear the news of Douglas,” Courville said. “I couldn’t attend his funeral because I was taking care of business overseas.”
Fournet was a graduate of Lake Charles High School and attended McNeese State University until 1965. He was also a member of the Lake Charles Police Department before enlisting in the U.S. Army.
The memorial is co-sponsored by the Kinder American Legion Post 244 and the Kinder Vietnam Veterans Association Chapter 215.