City’s Memorial Day remembers ‘The Boys of Rayne’

MEMORIAL DAY SERVICES were conducted by Legionnaires and Auxiliary members of Arceneaux Post 77 Sunday morning. Participants included, seated from left, Willis Credeur, guest speaker Sidney Stutes, Ray Olinger, Leo Spaetgens and Commander Gene Comeaux; standing, Auxiliary members Bonnie Simon, Grace Guidry and Louise Thibodeaux. (Acadian-Tribune Photos by Paul Kedinger)

SIDNEY STUTES was the guest speaker at Memorial Day services hosted by American Legion Post #77 on Sunday morning.

MEMORIAL DAY wreath of poppies was placed on a helmet topped cross by Lois Myers, a Gold Star sister during Memorial Day services held Sunday morning at Arceneaux Post 77.

By PAUL KEDINGER
Managing Editor

Rayne paused Sunday morning at 11 a.m. to remember “The Boys of Rayne” and all the other soldiers who gave their lives in defense of liberty and the United States of America.
Guest speaker Sidney Stutes reflected on the history of local soldiers who fought and died for this country during a program hosted by American Legion Post #77 and its Ladies Auxiliary.
Ray Olinger opened the program with brief remarks about the veterans who died in all the past wars.
Post Commander Gene Comeaux  in his welcoming remarks, commented, “This is not a happy occasion, but one we must do.”
Leo Spaetgens offered an invocation to set the somber tone for the service.
Past Commander Willis Credeur recited the names of Legionnaires who died since Memorial Day 2013 as Commander Comeaux sounded a bell tone. The deceased Legion members included Walter Stelly, Harris Sonnier, Rayford Domingue, Sidney Broussard and Purvis Richard.
Auxiliary President Bonnie Simon then mentioned she and Lois Myers were Gold Star sisters. After which Louise Thibodeaux recited the list of Auxiliary members who died during the past 12 months: Lillian Bourque, Gloria Domingue, Rose Domingue, Michelle Domingue and Theresa Gros.
Guest speaker Sidney Stutes, an Air Force veteran, opened his comments by remarking there “was never enough to say about our fallen veterans.”
After citing the first commander of Post #77,  H.V. Pourciau, Stutes turned his audience’s attention to the death of U.
S. Army Air Corps cadet Jacob Neff who died in a 1942 night training crash on farm of Andrus Fontenot’s parents three miles south of Rayne. He spoke of how he and Fontenot visited the crash site and how some 70 years later, Andrus Fontenot remembered the pilot’s name.
Remembering how Myrtra Fair Craig printed every letter from Rayne servicemen during World War II and named them “The Boys of Rayne,”
Stutes asked his audience to glance at the rear wall of the Legion Home   on the image of those who died in the wars.
Stutes then recited the names of all “The Boys of Rayne, “pausing occasionally to focus on several. He related a personal experience at the funeral Mass for Roy Schexnyder: “In a memory as if it happened yesterday, I remember the flag-draped coffin being carried by an honor guard at my eye level. I yanked on my Dad’s coat and asked, ‘Why is there a flag on the coffin?’’ My Dad hushed me and whispered, ‘Because Roy is a hero!’ Even at that age, I knew that.”
In his conclusion Stutes remarked, We have strayed from the values, the intergrity, the ideals for which they (The Boys of Rayne) fought and gave their last full measure of devotion.”
“Today, on this Memorial Day of 2014, let us ask the “Boys of Rayne” to pray to our Creator that He may forgive us and yet give us freedom.”
The memorial program concluded with Leo Spaetgens reading a poem by Alfred Thibodeaux entitled “Valley of Brave Men,” and Ray Olinger reading a letter from the mother of a deceased soldier.
Grace Guidry offered the benediction and Dallas Matte played “Taps.”

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