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The veteran who sang to the lions

Stephen S. Gaines / Staff Intern
Maria Aparecida de Araújo "Cida" Gisclair honors her late husband Robert “Bobby” A. Gisclair’s life and legacy by participating in a book signing for “Singing to the Lions.”

"Singing to the Lions" is a book about life experiences seen through the eyes of a young recruit as he transitions into a hardened veteran from the harsh and dangerous jungles of Vietnam.

Robert “Bobby” A. Gisclair was a soldier in the 501st Infantry/Alpha Co. of the 101st Airborne Division, during the Vietnam War in the late 1960s. He was born on April 5, 1948. Before his death he wrote "Singing to the Lions," a fictional book of his experiences before, during, and after Vietnam.

Through his relatable and compelling characters, Gisclair takes the reader on a realistic take of Vietnam. White is the main character for this book, a young man who learns the dangers of a war he did not cause. White sees death in a way that no sane man would like to see it. Yet these experiences parallel Gisclair’s own journey, a young man who saw death in ways too violent to imagine.

Gisclair joined the United States Army in 1966. He completed training in Virginia, Oklahoma, and Georgia. In 1967, he became a paratrooper in the Airborne 101st when the Vietnam War was at its height. He served as a surveyor, a cannoneer and a radioman with the infantry.

His widow, Maria Aparecida de Araújo "Cida" Gisclair, invited readers to hear her talk about the book and her late husband at the Ascension Parish Library in Donaldsonville on Thursday, July 13. She spoke about the heartache he suffered. The experience was so menacing that he travelled the world to forget it. He travelled through Europe, Asia, Africa, the Middle East and finally, through Central America. Gisclair spent extensive time traveling through Central America twice and living in Toledo Bend, Texas and Salvador, Brazil. It was in Brazil where he met Cida, and began a partnership that still continues after his death.

Gisclair eventually returned to his hometown of Cut Off, La. with his new wife. They had two sons, Ulysses and Diego. Gisclair spoke four languages and taught his sons the same. Spanish, Brazilian Portuguese, Cajun French and English were taught and regularly spoken in his home. Now his sons work as translators in New Orleans.

For 25 years Gisclair worked on an oil rig for Marathon Oil. He also got a degree in Psychology from the Nicholls State University.

After his journeys all over the world, Gisclair had two kidney stones removed due to cancer. He passed away from complications with cancer in 2014. He was 66 years old. Today, his wife Cida promotes his book "Singing to the Lions," which is acclaimed by critics as being compelling and poetically written.