Donations still sought for memorial to fallen warriors

 
By JEAN L. KAESS
Donations continue to be accepted toward an estimated $150,000 memorial honoring east St. Mary Parish soldiers killed in action, those who died from their wounds and soldiers who died non-combat deaths in World War I through the current wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Marc Distefano and Terry Mayon are attempting to raise funds for the Fallen Warriors Memorial Project honoring the deceased veterans. Distefano is a veteran of the Iraq war, while Mayon served in Vietnam.
The memorial, to be placed on the grounds of Cypress Park in Morgan City, will depict a child reaching out to accept a folded American flag, a typical memorial protocol in the military, Distefano said.
The memorial is based on one in Pflugerville, Texas, according to Distefano, the project chairman. He said the St. Mary Parish group is using the same artist and sculptor on the local project. Pflugerville’s memorial depicts service men from three different wars holding out a folded American flag. They stand on a brick walkway and behind them stands a stone marker engraved with the fallen warriors’ names.
As part of fundraising efforts, Distefano said the local group soon will begin selling laser engraved bricks for $150 each that honor active duty, discharged or retired military members. The bricks will be the foundation and along the walkway leading to the monument. Order forms will be available on the Fallen Warriors Memorial Project website, he said.
The Fallen Warriors organization also has partnered with the Southeast Louisiana Mustang Club. Distefano said the club will donate $10,000 towards the effort. Bruce Bordelon, a member of the Mustang Club and father of the late 1st Sgt. Matthew Bordelon who was killed in action while serving in Iraq in 2005, is expected to be on hand for the check presentation, Distefano said.
A Nov. 16 car show will be held at Lirette Ford in Morgan City. At the event, the memorial committee will have a booth with handouts describing the project, booklets listing all of the Fallen Warriors so far identified and donation flyers for support to include brick order forms.
Mayon has been researching the fallen servicemen from the Tri-City area for the last six years. Mayon said he has compiled all information available about each soldier including pictures when available, a biography, family member names and circumstances of death.
He has identified 46 soldiers in east St. Mary to date and is asking families to contact him if they know they had a member who hailed from this area that died in a foreign war. The most up-to-date research is located on the organization’s website. Also, a complete repository of all information about the soldiers will be given to the Morgan City Archives, Mayon said.
The memorial committee is taking part in Central Catholic High School’s Nov. 6 Veterans Day events and has partnered with Morgan City High School for several projects.
This will involve working with the Historic Society for research, the carpentry shop for park benches and students to assist in the eventual construction of the monument. The memorial committee also is involved in the Morgan City High’s Veterans Day event and will be mentoring selected students who will present during the ceremony.
They will be researching biographies of fallen warriors to include gathering updated information and pictures that best illustrate the lives of the servicemen in their community.
Distefano said, “Lest we forget is a familiar phrase honoring fallen warriors, veterans and (those) missing in action and is heard from those who strive to preserve the memories of sacrifices our men and women who fought and died for our country, for freedom and for our way of life. It is my honor and privilege to do the same.”
The memorial is needed to recognize local fallen soldiers, give special thanks to the soldiers’ families for their sacrifice, and provide a means for the citizens of Morgan City to take pride in a monument “focused on local acts of courage in the face of armed conflict,” Distefano said.
Want to help?
Contact Mayon to submit family information at 985-518-0662 or tmayon@bellsouth.net.
Contact Distefano to make a donation or for more information at marc.distefano@gmail.com.
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