Veterans honored at Plaquemine July Fourth Hometown celebration

Staff Report
Veterans honored at the Plaquemine July 4th Hometown Celebration are, from left, Ray Toups, Justin Alleman, David Boudreaux, Ronald Gourgues, Stephenke Robertson, Drake Cazes and Garrett Joffrion.

he City of Plaquemine once again honored a group of veterans as part of its July Fourth Hometown Celebration. The seven veterans honored led the boat parade on Bayou Plaquemine to the Tony Gulotta Bayou Waterfront Park, then were honored in a ceremony at the Plaquemine Community Center.

Honoring veterans has been part of the July Fourth Celebration since its inception 21 years ago. The veterans honored this year include Justin Alleman, David Boudreaux, Drake Cazes, Ronald Gourgues, Garrett Joffrion, Stepheneke Robertson, and Ray Toups.

Justin Alleman was a sergeant in the Louisiana Army National Guard, serving on missions in Texas and Kentucky for Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom. He also served hurricane victims at the La. Superdome after Hurricane Katrina. He received the following Army Achievement, Army Commendation, Global War on Terror and Louisiana Humanitarian medals. Alleman is a Paramedic Operations Supervisor for Acadian Ambulance. He and his wife, Claire, have two children, Nathan and Elizabeth.

David Boudreaux served in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War. He served at Ft. Polk, Ft. Carson and Vietnam, and was an Army Specialist 5/Sergeant when he was honorably discharged. After his service he worked for C.F. Bean Shipyard and J.E. Merit, and is now retired. He and his wife, Elise, have two grown children, David R. and Cecil Boudreaux.

Drake Cazes served in the U.S. Army in Syria as part of Operation Inherent Resolve. He was honorably discharged as a Sergeant, and received the following honors: Combat Infantryman Badge, Humanitarian Service Medal, Army Commendation Medal and Army Achievement Medal. Commenting on his service overseas, Cazes said, “I’ll never forget that side of the world because it allows me to appreciate the life I am blessed with more.” He now is in sales, gunsmithing and firearms training.

Ronald Gourgues was an expert rifleman in the U.S. Army, and served in the Vietnam War. He was stationed in Korea for two years, and then in Arizona. He was honorably discharged as an E5 Buck Sergeant. After his service, he became a diesel mechanic, the worked on a pipeline before working for Georgia Gulf Corp. for 38 years. He is now retired. He and his wife, Johnette, have two grown kids, Lee Ann Richard and Joni Courtade.

Garrett Joffrion served as an Army Specialist in Syria during Operation Inherent Resolve. During that time, he received the Combat Infantryman Badge. He says his deployment to Syria “changed me as a person, as a man, and opened up doors for my future. It was the best and worst time of my life.”

Stepheneke Robertson serves in the U.S. Army Reserves. She served in the post 9/11 Southwest Border Mission at the 922nd Engineer Vertical Construction Company as an E-4 Specialist, and presently is also attending Southern University studying accounting. So far in her service, she has received the following honors: La. National Guard F. Edward Hebert Meritorious Unit Commendation, Joint Service Achievement Medal, Army Good Conduct Medal, Army Reserve Component Achievement Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Armed Forces Service Medal, Armed Forces Ribbon and Reserve Medal, Coins of Excellence and Certificates of Appreciation. She is the guardian of Printtis Washington.

Ray Toups served in the U.S. Army for 30 years, covering the Gulf War, and the War on Terrorism, which includes the Iraq campaign and Afghanistan campaign. He was honorably discharged as a Sergeant Major. During his 30 years, he was stationed in numerous places. His main duty stations were at Fort Jackson, South Carolina; Fort Gordon, Georgia; Plaquemine (Army National Guard); Fort Hood, TX; Fort Lee, VA; the Pentagon, Washington, D.C.; Fort Bliss, TX; and Arlington Hall Station, Arlington, VA. Additionally, he served temporary duty in approximately a dozen countries, as well as all but five of the United States, including the territories of Guam, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. He received numerous medals, with his highest honors being the Legion of Merit, four Meritorious Service Medals, the Joint Service Commendation Medal, four Army Commendation Medals, and the Iraq Campaign Medal with two service stars. He was also inducted to the Honorable Order of St. Martin. After retiring from the service, he was offered a position with the Army National Guard to travel Louisiana conducting audits of their supply management program, drafting policy and procedures for improving their program, and providing training to young soldiers to enable them to effectively manage Army resources. He is married to Holly Toups.

“We thank all of these local veterans for their tremendous service and sacrifices for our country and our freedoms,” said Mayor Edwin “Ed” Reeves, Jr., who led the ceremony honoring the veterans.