Fournet deserving of ‘highest tribute’

Lawmakers seek to name VA clinic after local Medal of Honor winner

Three Louisiana Congressmen announced Monday they have introduced legislation to rename the Veterans Affairs clinic in Lake Charles after 1st Lt. Douglas Fournet, a Kinder native who died while serving in the Vietnam War.

The legislation — backed by U.S. Sens. Bill Cassidy, R-La., and John Kennedy, R-La., and U.S. Rep. Clay Higgins, R-Port Barre — would rename the Lake Charles Community-Based Outpatient Clinic to the “Douglas Fournet Department of Veterans Affairs Clinic.”

Born on May 7, 1943, Fournet joined the Army in 1966. He was killed instantly in May of 1968 after a mine detonated while he tried to cut its control wires. Fournet’s platoon was under sniper fire in Vietnam’s A Shau Valley, and he ordered them to take cover while trying to disarm the mine, using his body as a shield.

Fournet was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor in 1970. He remains the city’s only recipient of the award.

The Fournet family released a statement saying they fully support the legislation.

“Doug’s story has always served as a heroic example of sacrifice and selflessness to all of the citizens of Southwest Louisiana,” the statement reads. “We feel very fortunate to now have a facility in our area where Doug’s story will continue to live on and inspire others, but most importantly, where veterans can receive quality medical care to repay them for their sacrifices for our country.”

Cassidy said in a news release that renaming the VA clinic will honor Fournet’s heroism and “ensures his bravery is never forgotten.” Kennedy said renaming the clinic is the right thing to do.

Higgins called Fournet “an American hero deserving of the highest tribute.”

Lake Charles Mayor Nic Hunter, the Department of Louisiana American Legion, the Louisiana Department of Disabled American Veterans and Louisiana Veterans of Foreign Wars State Commander Matthew West all voiced their support for renaming the clinic.

The clinic, at 3601 Gerstner Memorial Drive, has been open since August 2017.Lt. Douglas Fournet

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