Ascension first responders remember 9/11 tragedy

Greg Fischer Editor-in-chief
Parish officials stand alongside James E. LeBlanc (center) to address the crowd gathered in Gonzales, La.

Ascension Parish first responders gathered in both Prairieville, La. and Gonzales, La. on the morning of September 11, 2019 to remember the day back in 2001.

This is the 18th anniversary of the when America came under attack by Al-Qaeda forces in the form of four hijacked commercial airplanes. It may be hard to believe that this year's high school seniors weren't born yet.

St. Amant Vol. Fire Dept. Chief James E. LeBlanc said it's more important than ever to say "never forget."

Never forget the day two planes slammed into the NYC World Trade Center "Twin Towers." One hit the U.S. Pentagon building, and another that was intended perhaps for the White House, failed.

Five Louisianans perished in the attack: 31-year-old U.S. Navy Lt. Michael Scott Lamana, Baton Rouge; 53-year-old Louis Calvin Williams, III, Mandeville; 27-year-old U.S. Navy Info. Systems Technician 2nd Class Kevin Wayne Yokum, Lake Charles; 62-year-old Elisabeth Ann "Betty" Farmer, New Orleans; and 55-year-old Retired U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Robert Joseph Hymel, New Orleans.

They were remembered at the Prairieville ceremony by the dinging of the bell for each of them.

In Gonzales, a U.S. flag was presented to LeBlanc from Pete and Deidra Cole of Ascension Funeral Home, who along with Ralph's Supermarket, catered the event ceremonies.

Leblanc explained that the flag serves as a centerpiece in each of the district fire stations in the parish.

"We've got to work together," was a message shared across the board by not only firemen but also police first responders, which included Chief Sherman Jackson and Sheriff Bobby Webre.

"I hope we find a way to bring civility back into our culture," Webre said.

But Ascension Parish is connected to the event in a special way. Both State Representative Johnny Berthelot and Parish President Kenny Matassa recalled flying to New York to deliver the "Spirit of Louisiana" firetruck.

"It's always an honor to be among these great public servants," Matassa said.

More firemen were killed in the September 11th attack than all Ascension Parish firemen combined. In Prairieville this was noted by Deputy Chief Pat Carpenter and Assistant Chief Jim Cooper who was the guest speaker. Cooper celebrates 50 years in service.

For a complete photo gallery from the September 11, 2019 events click here.