Homer Wise to Be Honored in Louisiana

Friday, September 18, 2009

Below is a news report published yesterday about the dedication and induction ceremony for the new Louisiana Military Hall of Fame and Museum in Abbeville, Louisiana. Homer Wise was born in Louisiana and settled in Stamford in 1945.

The Homer L. Wise Memorial Committee was contacted earlier this year by museum officials and we are working with them and will be represented at the ceremony on November 15.

September 14, 2009 St. Martinville, Louisiana

Military Hall of Fame plans take shape

Bruce Brown

ST. MARTINVILLE — Barbara DeBlanc Romero has no doubt what her father, Medal of Honor recipient Jefferson DeBlanc, would think about his upcoming inclusion in the Louisiana Military Hall of Fame and Museum,

"He'd be so proud and happy, for himself and for all the veterans," Romero said. "I can just see Dad smiling."

Romero, her brother, Frank DeBlanc, and his wife, Margaret, were briefed recently about induction ceremonies planned for Nov. 15 at the Chris Crusta Airport in Abbeville.

"You're going to be proud of this building," Johnny Raymond, vice president of the museum board and events chairman, told the family. "You'll be pleased to have your daddy be a part."

Jefferson DeBlanc (Marine Corps), Homer L. Wise (U.S. Army), Howard Gilmore (Navy) and Steven Bennett (Air Force) will be inducted into the Hall of Fame on Nov. 15 in phase one of the museum project.

Louisiana has had 11 Medal of Honor winners, all deceased. Others will be inducted in later ceremonies, likely on Veterans Day and Memorial Day.

"Phase one will have a 30- by 30-foot octagon shape, with walls 10 feet high," Executive Director Paula Finley said. "The Hall of Fame will be inside those walls.

"There will be oral histories and promotions for phase two. Inside that will be a 15- by 15-foot theater, seating 20 to 25, for films that will be edited to eight to 15 minutes for presentations."
The Nov. 15 program, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., will be part of a day-long festival at the site of the museum on the airport grounds.

Also at the meeting last Wednesday, architect Randy Rivera of Lafayette presented his vision of the permanent phase two hall of fame and museum.

"It's always important to us to consider location, context and content," Rivera said. "We look for stories and how to tell those stories."

Rivera said the spark for his swooping, futuristic design was the vapor trail left by airplanes taking off from aircraft carriers. He described the design as "a runway, like a Band-Aid going up and over to form the roof for the museum."

Hall of Fame members will be memorialized in 5- by 10-foot glass monuments in an outdoor reflecting pool, with their likenesses and information etched in silver.

"This is beautiful," Romero said when shown the dramatic design. "I can't believe this."
Once ground is broken on the museum, Rivera estimates it will take 24 months to complete construction.

"We got the money allocated for the project in 2006," Finley said. "Sen. Nick Gautreaux got the bill passed. Then, in this last legislative session, Sen. Mike Michot was able to get us an additional $150,000."

Once phase one is complete, the secretary of state's office will cover up to $100,000 for operation of the museum. The state Legislature has granted a total of $350,000.

"It's all going at an exceedingly rapid pace," Finley said. "Once we're open, we can apply for federal grants and foundation grants. So, it will accelerate after Nov. 15. We're hopeful, if we can get private and legislative support, to start phase two by 2010.

"We want to honor every veteran from Lousiana as far back as we can go."

Jefferson DeBlanc would like that.

Oklahoma City: Oklahoma can do it so can Stamford

Broken Arrow War Hero Honored With Statue

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Childers threw rocks at the German machine gun position. The soldiers fled, presumably thinking the rocks were hand grenades.

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Childers was born in Broken Arrow on a farm that was part of his father's Creek tribal allotment.


OKLAHOMA CITY -- A Broken Arrow native who took out a German machine gun position while himself injured will be honored with the dedication of a statue Friday, September 25.
The late Lt. Col. Ernest Childers, Native American and 45 Infantry Division veteran who received the Medal of Honor for his heroic actions in Italy during World War II, will be honored with the dedication of a statue on September 25 at the 45th Infantry Division Museum in Oklahoma City. The dedication will take place at 10 a.m. in front of the Museum, 2145 N.E. 36th St.

Childers was born in Broken Arrow on Feb. 1, 1918, and was raised on a farm that was part of his father's original Creek tribal allotment. He was the middle of five children all of whom his mother raised after Childers' father died.

In 1937, after graduating from the Chilocco Indian School, Childers enlisted in the Oklahoma Army National Guard and was mobilized with the 45th Infantry Division for service in Europe during World War II.

Childers, who held the rank of First Sergeant, distinguished himself during combat operations in Sicily and received a battlefield commission to the rank of Second Lieutenant.

On Sept. 22, 1943, Childers organized a group of eight soldiers to help clear a route for the Division's advance. In the pre-dawn mist, Childers came under fire and fell into a shell crater and broke his ankle. Childers tried to crawl to an aide station, but it was destroyed by enemy fire before he made it.

"I crawled back and told my men to lay down a base of fire over me," he told an interviewer. "You see, I had to crawl because of my broken ankle. I was crawling up a slope of a hill. I came up behind one of the German machine gun nests that had us pinned down."

As the Germans were turning their machine guns toward Childers, he was quicker and shot them dead. From the first German position, Childers could see a second position within throwing distance.

He picked up several rocks and threw them into the second German position.

"I assume they thought it was a hand grenade, because nobody throws rocks," he said.

Then the Germans scrambled out of the hole, Childers shot one of them and another U.S. soldier killed the other. After securing the German machine gun positions, Childers single-handedly captured an enemy mortar observer at a house further up the hill.

As he moved up the hill, Childers trained his M1 Carbine on a German soldier that was walking toward him. Childers could not shoot the enemy soldier because he was out of ammunition.

"My body was wet with sweat since the German was fully armed, and I was holding an empty rifle on him. That German was the only surviving German in the entire action of that day," said Childers.

On April 13, 1944, after arriving at Devers' headquarters, Childers learned that he had been selected as a recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor for his actions on Sept. 22, 1943. The Medal of Honor was presented to Childers that afternoon.

The statue of Childers, which will stand in front of the 45th Infantry Division Museum, was commissioned by the Muskogee (Creek) Nation and created by Oklahoma artist Sandra Van Zandt. In 2008, Van Zandt created another statue of Childers which stands at the entryway of the Veterans Administration Building in Tulsa.

Copyright 2011 The Homer L. Wise Memorial Committee, Inc.