LSMSA honors five veterans in annual ceremony

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The Louisiana School for Math, Science, and the Arts (LSMSA) honored five veterans on Nov. 8 at its annual Veterans Day Program.

This year’s honorees were Deanna Fowler, Henry Llorence, Thurman Baptiste, Arthur Williams, and Kevin Shannahan.

Deanna Fowler served in both the U.S. Army and Louisiana National Guard, having earned the ending ranks of 1LT and Captain, respectively. During her service in the army, she was recognized as the first woman at Ft. Sill, Oklahoma to become a safety officer qualified for the Field Artillery Howitzers. She was also recognized as the first woman to command a forward support maintenance company in Louisiana during her time in the National Guard.

Henry Llorence currently works at LSMSA as the Supervisor of Maintenance & Physical Plant. He served in the U.S. Army, becoming an expert M16 rifle marksman and grenade specialist during his time in basic training. His skills led him to receive advanced individualized training shortly afterward, earning him specialties in welding and camouflage painting.

Thurman Baptiste, who now currently serves on the Natchitoches Parish Sherriff’s Office as a deputy, was in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1995 to 2009. He was stationed in several continental and international bases before being deployed to Iraq toward the end of his career. During his time in the service, he received three Good Conduct medals, four National Defense medals, two Navy and Marine Corps Achievement medals, two Navy Sea Service Deployment ribbons, and a Global War on Terrorism Service medal. He ended his service as a Sergeant.

Arthur S. Williams served in the U.S. Naval Reserve as a First-Division Officer. He was responsible for supplying fuel oil and jet fuel to ships underway at sea. Following that, he participated in NATO and fleet operations in the Mediterranean, Aegean, North Atlantic, and Caribbean seas. Williams retired from LSMSA after 32 years of service to the school. He has been named Executive Director Emeritus and is still actively involved in the school.

Kevin Shannahan currently works at the Natchitoches Parish Journal as a writer and photographer. He started as an ICBM launch officer in the U.S. Air Force and worked his way up the ranks to the role of Captain. He also served for three years as a reserve officer at McClellan Air Force Base in California.

The ceremony was led by LSMSA’s Director of Administration John Allen and Student Government Organization (SGO) President William Heitman (’19). The Pledge of Allegiance was delivered by SGO Vice-President Myles Fabre (’19), and each of the veterans were given individual introductions by students Aubrey Prewitt (’21), William Casey (’19), Olufunke Adeleye (’20), Song LeJeune (’19), and Siobahn Stanley (’20). Each student presented the veterans with a gift as a token of their esteem for their service.

“Today, it is our privilege to say ‘thank you’ to all of America’s veterans,” said John Allen during the ceremony, “to let them know that we appreciate them for their service and honor them for their sacrifices.

“The price of freedom is high. We cannot afford to forget those willing to pay it. Today, we celebrate America’s veterans for keeping this nation ‘the land of the free and the home of the brave.’”

Toward the end of the ceremony, Allen asked all veterans in attendance, including Natchitoches residents and LSMSA staff and faculty, to stand in recognition. All ceremony participants were asked to stand and turn around for a commemorative group photo after senior Juan Cecchini played Taps on trumpet.

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