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World War II—Eleven Abbeville Heroes

Donald Frederick Boulevard, Abbeville
Donald Frederick Boulevard, Abbeville, Louisiana

The Project

On Monday, November 12, 2007, Veterans' Day ceremonies were held on Donald Frederick Boulevard in Abbeville for the purpose of dedicating the eleven live oak trees on the median to the memories of eleven Abbeville veterans killed as a result of enemy action in World War II.

The project was a joint effort of the Vermilion Historical Society and Keep Abbeville Beautiful, an entity affiliated with the city government of Abbeville.

The Live Oak Committee of Keep Abbeville Beautiful consisted of Susan Desormeaux, chairperson, Charles and Elaine Dill, Jean LeBlanc, and Betty Fuller.  Gary Theall, a board member of the Vermilion Historical Society, was asked to serve as historical consultant for the project.

The committee first established criteria for the selection process.  Since the boulevard was named after Donald Frederick, who was the first Abbeville veteran killed in the war—having been aboard the USS Arizona when it was attacked by the Japanese at Pearl Harbor—it was decided that the honorees should be soldiers or sailors who were killed as a result of enemy action in World War II.  A second criterion was that the honorees must have had strong ties to Abbeville during their lifetimes, since this was an Abbeville project.

Theall researched all of the available sources of information on the 134 veterans of Vermilion Parish who were reported to have died during World War II.  The sources included the history books published by the Vermilion Historical Society, all of the available microfilms of the issues of the Abbeville Meridional and of the Abbeville Progress published during the war, the Internet, cemetery records, genealogies, and other sources.  He presented his report to the committee.

After carefully considering the information on all of the candidates, the committee selected the eleven who in their opinion best met the criteria established for selection.  The honorees selected were Donald Frederick, Dunice Hargrave, Preston Harrington, Earl B. Lattier, Raymond J. Hebert, Herman C. Landry, William G. Weill, John W. O'Bryan, Jr., Nicholas Trahan, Peter S. Russo, and Elson J. Landry.

These Abbeville heroes are profiled on the next eleven pages, in chronological order of their deaths.

The Ceremony

After the presentation of the colors, Miss Abbeville and Miss Teen Abbeville led the crowd in the Pledge of Allegiance.  The J. H. Williams Middle School band then performed the National Anthem.  The dedication ceremony was conducted by Cmdr. Willie Hymel of American Legion Post 29 with all due military dignity.  Lt. Col. Charles Dill, Jr., USAF retired, conducted the MIA/POW empty table protocol.  Mayor Mark Piazza then addressed the crowd, speaking about the good work of the Keep Abbeville Beautiful program.  Susan Desormeaux, chairperson of the Live Oak Committee of Keep Abbeville Beautiful, then officially dedicated the eleven live oak trees to the memories of the honorees, and inducted the trees into the Live Oak Society.  Next Gary Theall spoke about each of the honorees in turn, their military service, their connection with Abbeville, their relatives, and the circumstances of their deaths.  After Theall spoke, the band performed a beautiful rendition of "America the Beautiful."  State Senator Nick Gautreaux then spoke, comparing the symbolism of the live oaks with the heroic careers of the honorees.

Permanent bronze plaques were installed at the base of each tree, with the honoree's name, branch of service, next of kin, theater of operations, and date of death.  For the ceremony, pictures of each of the honorees were displayed next to the plaques, except for Dunice Hargrave and Elson J. Landry, for whom no pictures could be obtained.


Commander Willie Hymel
Cmdr. Willie Hymel,
American Legion Post 29


Pledge of Allegiance
Cmdr. Hymel, Miss Abbeville,
Miss Teen Abbeville


Lieutenant-Colonel Charles Dill
Cmdr. Willie Hymel,
Lt. Col. Charles Dill, Jr.


J. H. Williams Middle School Band
J. H. Williams Middle School Band,
Jerry DeHart, Director

Mayor Mark Piazza
Mayor Mark Piazza


Susan Desormeaux
Susan Desormeaux


Gary E. Theall
Gary Theall

State Senator Nick Gautreaux
State Senator Nick Gautreaux

First:  Donald Frederick


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This project was financed through the generosity of the following contributors:

Acadian Heritage & Culture Foundation
Mr. & Mrs. Ray Barras
C. Paul Bergeron
Eileen Boudoin
Gerald & Kathryn Broussard
Heloise Broussard
Ruth & Justin Broussard
Gloria Conlin
I Cugini della Sicilia
Darnall Sikes Gardes & Frederick
Dee's Flea Market
Jeanne Devalcourt
Jude & Ada Duhon
Anthony M. "Tony" Guarino
Marilyn L. Hargrave
Beverly & Robert Hebert
Margaret D. Hebert
Earl B. Lattier, Sr.
D. A. LeBlanc Nursery, Inc.
Glenn Lege Construction, Inc.
Ronnie & Tasha Leger
Claude B. Melebeck, Jr.
The Moresi Firm, LLC
Paul G. Moresi, III, LLC
John W. O'Bryan,, III
John & Catherine Primeaux
Donna T. Putnam
Joyce H. Russo
Mike J. Saunier
Eugene & Phallie Sellers
Revis Sirmon
Chas. & Mary Ellen Sonnier
Gary & Sandra Theall
Richard W. Watkins
Karl & Linda Weill
Calvin E. Woodruff, Jr.