Legion set to honor Vietnam War veteran

Published 4:31 am Saturday, September 30, 2017

Bobby Latino, the new commander for American Legion Post 24, has been only one of many people on a mission to find the family of Charles Gene Laduke, a Vietnam combat veteran who recently passed away in Angie.

Laduke was born in Wisconsin, attended high school in Missouri, and enlisted in the U.S. Army in California.

“He lived all over the country; maybe that’s why we never found anybody,” Latino said.

People tried their individual resources to find Laduke’s family, and others donated financially.

Latino thanked John Miller at Veterans Affairs, State Sen. Beth Mizell, Poole-Ritchie Funeral Home, Bagnell and Lee Road Funeral Homes, Bogalusa Mayor Wendy Perrette, Donnie Kuhn, and Billy Robbins — who Latino described as “being over all the veterans’ cemeteries in Louisiana” — for their assistance to the cause.

He also thanked Richard and Cathy Morris for being caretakers to Laduke, and for calling him when they were stymied about his family.

“When I heard there was a combat Vietnam veteran who died with no family and no funds to give him a proper send off, that’s when we decided that American Legion Post 24 would give him a send off with full military honors,” Latino said.

The funeral will take place in the veterans’ plot in Ponemah Cemetery at 11 a.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 4, and Latino hopes that all veterans who are able — as well as all other citizens — will attend.

“As a military person, I know if I was in the shape he was in, I can’t think of any better way to send him off and to say God bless him and God bless America,” Latino said.