LOCAL

Vietnam Vet holds reunion to honor a fallen soldier

Lisa Yates @Lisa_editor
Vietnam Vets Bob Deasaye and Bob Choquett of Rhode Island, Joe Engles of California, Carl Benson of New York, Ronnie Plaisance of Louisiana and James Cook of Tennessee pose in front of a cannon at Jackson Square in New Orleans during their reunion the week of March 21. The reunion was to honor their friend John Pezzulo killed in action during the Battle of Soui Tre.

Ronnie Plaisance of Gonzales served in the United States Army during the Vietnam War from 1966 to 1967. During the war, he fought in the Battle of Soui Tre.

The Battle of Soui Tre was one of the most important battles of the Vietnam conflict. In a little over three hours, 647 enemy soldiers were killed.

The Americans suffered casualties, as well. One of the men killed in action was a member of Plaisance's artillery unit: His friend, John F. Pezzulo of New York.

"He was killed in action March 21, 1967, he was our gunner," he said. "We were in the 105th Artillery Unit."

When Plaisance returned home to Gonzales, he built a memorial to Pezzulo in the front yard of his home. The memorial features Army boots, a helmet, an American flag and a plaque that reads: "All gave some, some gave all: John F. Pezzulo, U.S. Army, K.I.A. March 21, 1967."

Plaisance, 67, said over time he had lost touch with many of his Army buddies. It was only recently, they found each other through the Internet.

"I told them about the memorial," he said. "They wanted to see it. So after 45 years from returning from Vietnam, we reunited here in Gonzales for a reunion."

He said the reunion took place the week of March 21, to honor their friend killed in action during the Battle of Soui Tre.

Plaisance and his wife of 48 years, Beverly, welcomed the Vietnam Vets he had served with into their home. They included Bob Deasaye and Bob Choquett of Rhode Island, Joe Engles of California, Carl Benson of New York and James Cook of Tennessee.

For all but one of the men, this was their first visit to Louisiana, according to Plaisance.

"They loved it," he said. "They wanted to hear some Cajun music, so I took them to Boutin's to listen to a Cajun band."

He said they took a tour of South Louisiana which included a visit to the Atchafalaya Basin, Jackson Square in New Orleans and a ride on a river boat.

"We had a dinner cruise on the Creole Queen Mississippi River riverboat," he said. "The guys had a great time."

Plaisance said they plan to make their reunion an annual event.

"They want to come back here to Louisiana," he said. "So we're going to do it again, next year."