Honoring Those Who Have Served

Staff Writer
Gonzales Weekly Citizen

The American Legion Auxiliary Unit 258 in Springfield is proud to sponsor The William W. Perkins WWII Memorial Weekend March 15-16, at The Sidney Hutchinson Memorial Park, 13730 Ball Park Rd., Walker. Perkins, better known as Bill, enlisted in the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1936 and left the small town of Denham Springs, at the age of 16 headed for northern California. He quickly rose to the rank of Sergeant and enlisted into the 184th regiment of The California National Guard. The 184th was absorbed by the 7th Infantry Division and participated in the campaigns assigned to the 7th during the war. Those campaigns included The Alleutian Islands, Kwajalein, Leyte and Okinawa. Bill was awarded the bronze star and the Purple Heart. He passed away on Memorial Day, May 28, 2012.

Weekend festivities begin with a USO/Swing Dance Friday, March 15 at The Old South Jamboree, 9554 Florida Blvd, Walker, from 7-10 p.m. featuring a tribute to the golden age of radio with a stage production of an Abbott and Costello Radio Show from March 16, 1944. The radio show will be performed by The Spotlight Theater Players, a community theater group from Denham Springs. The remainder of the night will be a swing dance with the musical entertainment being provided by Rosie and The Swingin' Riveters, an 8 piece swing band from Denham Springs. Doors open at 6 p.m. Tickets are $10 and will be available at the door or by calling (225) 315-3776.

Participating in Saturday's events are the Women Veterans of Louisiana, U.S. Naval Sea Cadet Corps, Stabs Kompanie, Venture Crew of the 506th, and the USS KIDD, with reenactors representing Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida. WWII veterans will be present throughout the day for meet and greet at the veterans tent. Gates open at 9 a.m. Opening ceremonies will include music from the Livingston Parish Children's Choirs from Denham Springs. Musical entertainment will also be provided at 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. by The Platinum Sound Orchestra in Baton Rouge and Jeremy Downey and Anita LeBlanc, whose repertoire concentrates on big band music, with selections from all genres including jazz, swing, and classical from the 1940s – 1960s.

Included in Saturday's events are firing demonstrations of Axis and Allied weapons, an Allied and Axis skirmish, as well as the Main Allied and Axis Battle. Livingston Parish Sheriff's office will provide a helicopter on site and demonstrations by the K9 Unit. There will be displays from the GI Museum (Ocean Springs, MS), Camp Van Dorn WWII Museum (Centerville, MS), Louisiana Veterans Administration, the Louisiana National Guard and USS KIDD. Also on display will be military vehicles (Individual Reenactor, Steel Soldier, MVPA), as well as vintage cars (Redstick Model A Ford Car Club). Merchandise vendors selling WWII items, woodcrafts, quilts, yard art, stained glass, pottery, handmade jewelry, embroidery, honey, jellies and jams, (to name a few) will be on site. Food vendors will also be selling tasty treats from funnel cakes to corndogs, hot dogs, roasted peanuts, kettle corn, snow cones, and grilled Hawaiian chicken.

All proceeds benefit the LA War Veterans Home, Veterans Homeless Shelters, and sending care packages to our service men and women overseas. Events scheduling may be subject to change. For more information and event schedules, please visit www.ww2memorialweekend.com.