Ponemah to hold wreath ceremony Friday

Published 4:51 am Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Ponemah Cemetery will have a wreath cemetery on Friday at 1 p.m., at the new veterans’ plot on the cemetery grounds. This event is sponsored by the 40 & 8 Voiture 1360 and the American Legion Post 24.

The program narrator will be Mike Henley, and the ceremony will feature a solemn opening. There will be a one-minute moment of silence, followed by a flyover and the posting of the colors by the Bogalusa High School Army Jr. ROTC. Gary Rushing will sing the national anthem.

Aumenier Paul Corse will say the prayer, and then be followed by guest speaker Ret. Col. Walter Smith of the U.S. Marine Corps. After Smith’s remarks, the wreaths will be laid on the veterans’ plots. Wreaths will be laid in memory of: those who served and are now serving in the U.S. Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, American Legion and U.S. Department of Defense, as well as for the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the American soldiers whose last known status was prisoner of war or missing in action.

Corse will say a prayer, followed by a three-volley salute and the playing of Taps. The Jr. ROTC will then retire the colors.

Smith was commissioned a second lieutenant in the U.S. Marine Corps in 1963, upon graduation from LSU. He was assigned to the Navy Flight School in Pensacola, Fla., where he earned the gold wings of a naval aviator in December of 1964.

Having been assigned to a Marine helicopter squadron in California, he was deployed to Vietnam in 1965 for a period of 13 months. During this time, he flew over 400 combat missions in and around Danang, South Vietnam.

Smith earned the Purple Heart, the Distinguished Flying Cross and 26 air medals while in Vietnam. Upon returning to the United States, he was assigned to the 1st Battalion 8th Marines at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, as the BN Air Officer.

Upon completion of his active duty, Smith joined the Reserve Helicopter Squadron at Belle Chase Naval Air Station, where he served in a variety of assignments until he was selected for promotion to colonel, and served as squadron commander for a period of three years. He then transferred to the augment staff of the Fourth Marine Aircraft Wing, serving as logistics officer before being promoted to Colonel of Marines. He served as commanding officer of the augment staff for a period of two years, and then transferred to the headquarters of the U.S. Marine Corps in Washington, D.C. He served in the Aviation Section until his retirement in 1993, after 30 years of service.