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Veterans honored at assisted living facility

November 11, 2017 GMT

On Thursday afternoon, at the Azalea Estates Assisted Living facility in New Iberia, 17 veterans of World War II and the Korean War were honored for their service with a brief ceremony and a visit from a Lafayette-based Marine.

Azalea Estates Assisted Living honors their veteran residents every year, said Executive Director Chris Thibodeaux.

“To our residents, this is a remembrance and a recognition of the time they served to protect our rights and our freedoms. We recognize them every day, not just on Veterans Day, but now especially,” said Thibodeaux. “Their dedication is rare.”

The veterans at Azalea Estates Assisted Living range in age from 77 to 100.

“We have some very remarkable veterans,” said Robin Robichaux, Executive Assistant. “We have men that were prisoners of war here. If you just sit and listen to them, they’re living what we’ve only read about in history books. They are living, walking history books.”

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The oldest among them, Leon Mienville, celebrated his 100th birthday this past summer.

“He was born on the Fourth of July,” said Thibodeaux. Mienville served with General Patton and fought in the Battle of the Bulge.

Marine Sgt. Adelfo Campos, a San Diego native now stationed in Lafayette, attended the event in uniform to present the veterans with certificates recognizing their service.

“I got to Lafayette 38 days ago. I came from San Diego, where there’s great weather and not so great food,” he said. “Here the weather’s not so great, but the food is amazing.”

Campos began by reading some prepared remarks, but soon abandoned the script and delivered a heartfelt speech thanking the veterans for their service.

“I want to say thank you to our heroes, these heroes right here,” he said. “I am so honored to honor them. These are the men I look up to,” he said. “It is a privilege and an honor to do this. You guys are the real heroes. Thank you,” the 24-year-old Marine, originally from New York, said.

Campos then shook the hand of each veteran individually and presented them with their certificates as Thibodeaux read off their names. After the veterans posed for photographs, a cake decorated with an American flag and a banner that read “Thank you Veterans!” was cut into squares and served with punch.

“This is over the top,” said a very modest Henry Dauterive. “I don’t mind some recognition, but it’s a duty for every man — and every female too,” he said.

“This means everything to me. It’s my whole life,” said Kernis Baudoin. Baudoin is not an Azalea resident, but he is a veteran, and he came to honor and to be honored with his fellow veterans.

“Oh lord, this was wonderful. If that don’t make a man cry — thinking about the blood, sweat and tears they gave — what would?” he said.