GONZALES – Governor Bobby Jindal awarded 204 veterans from Ascension Parish with the Louisiana Veterans’ Honor Medal at the Gonzales Civic Center in Gonzales. Governor Jindal was joined by Louisiana Department of Veterans Affairs (LDVA) Secretary Lane Carson and Major General Bennett C. Landreneau, Adjutant General of the Louisiana National Guard, to award the state’s veterans with a special medal in honor of their service in the Armed Forces.
Governor Bobby Jindal said, “We have a duty to honor and thank our veterans every single day for the sacrifices they made on our behalf – and these honor medals serve as symbol of our deep appreciation for their courageous service.”
Governor Jindal signed legislation in 2008 to create the Veterans’ Honor Medal Program in order to recognize and honor all of Louisiana’s veterans. The program is managed by the Louisiana Department of Veterans Affairs. The Veterans’ Honor Medal is gold-plated and comes with a blue ribbon. One side shows the state of Louisiana with “United States” embossed above and “Armed Forces” below.
The other side bears the words, “Louisiana appreciates your service to our country.” Veterans who sustained a wound in battle will receive an honor medal designated by a silver star and a purple ribbon. Families of veterans who were killed in action will receive an honor medal designated by a gold star and a gold ribbon.
While awarding the medals, Governor Jindal told stories of medal recipients to highlight the heroic acts of Louisiana’s veterans. Jesse Eugene Carlisle was born in McComb, Mississippi on Christmas Day in 1923. After high school, Carlisle worked as a welder in a shipyard in Mobile, Alabama.
When the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, his brother joined the military – and Carlisle joined up shortly thereafter because he wanted to defend his country and follow in his brother’s footsteps.
By 1943, Carlisle was sent into combat in France in World War Two. His specialty was programming and repairing military communication devices. On one particular day, communication lines were damaged in the midst of battle with German forces.
Under constant fire, Carlisle located and repaired all breaks in the lines and restored communication to fellow U.S. troops. With bullets firing over head, he literally crawled back to his men after repairing the lines, but was hit by shrapnel.
After Carlisle risked his life, communication lines were intact and U.S. troops were able to push the Germans out of their territory. For his courageous actions, Carlisle received a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star.
He served until the end of World War Two, going on to also earn a Silver Star, two Oak Leaf Clusters, and another Purple Heart for enduring frostbite and other injuries while on a mission in freezing conditions along the French and German border.
Upon honorable discharge from the service, Carlisle went back to McComb, Mississippi. He got a job as a taxi driver and married his wife Virginia. He and Virginia had four daughters.
Carlisle decided that he needed to find a better-paying job to support his young family so he moved to Baton Rouge where he took a job with a welding company and was a welder there for over 25 years. Carlisle passed away a few days after his 81st birthday in December 2004. His oldest daughter Ginny Oginbene accepted a medal on her father’s behalf.