Page 1

Profile 2011

lifestyles a look at some of what makes living in the teche area unique a special section of

Celebrating Our Community

The Daily Iberian / Thursday, February 17, 2011

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Everett Connell stands behind the camp commander’s quarters in 1944 when he was a guard at the German prisoner of war camp near Jeanerette. LEE BALL / THE DAILY IBERIAN

Everett Connell poses with his World War II medals and pictures from his days in the U.S. Army. He was a guard at

the German prisoner of war camp near Jeanerette during the war.

O N E C H R I S T M A S DAY I N T H E M I D - 1 9 4 0 S , A S T H E P O W S R E T U R N E D F R O M T H E S U G A R C A N E F I E L D S , A L O U D S P E A K E R P L AY E D ‘ S I L E N T N I G H T, H O LY N I G H T.’ E V E R E T T C O N N E L L , A G U A R D, WA S W E A R I N G AN AMERICAN UNIFORM AND JOHANNES THIEME, A GERMAN SOLDIER, WAS A POW IN JEANERETTE. THIS IS THEIR STORY ...

Over there, to here & back BY KARMA CHAMPAGNE THE DAILY IBERIAN

J

EANERET TE — Two World War II veterans now spend much of their retirement days thinking about their own traumatic experiences from possibly the most widespread war in world history that brought much tragedy and sometimes little compassion after their return. There is no immediate connection between these two soldiers who fought on opposite sides of the conflict, nor do they remember whether they crossed paths. But they do have something in common: Jeanerette. More than six decades have gone by since Johannes G. Thieme left Jeanerette as a German soldier and returned home after being a prisoner of one of the most deadly wars in history, but as he sits in his Starnberg, Germany, home on the fringe of the Bavarian Alps, his

memories have not faded away with age. Thieme, 87, can recall just about all of his experiences over his five-year war odyssey that led him to three continents. Thieme has a vivid recollection of the day he was drafted by the “Wehrmacht” and deployed to Russia. He has profound memories of his days fighting on the front line and he has never forgotten the three years he spent in captivity in a Prisoner of War Camp on the outskirts of Jeanerette. Meanwhile, U.S. Army veteran Everett L. Connell sits in his New Iberia home recollecting his own traumatic war experiences while fighting the Axis powers at the front line and the time that followed while serving as a prison guard at the German POW camp near Jeanerette.

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Johannes G. Thieme in his German Army uniform during World War II. He was captured in North Africa and ended up as a prisoner of war camp near Jeanerette.

Coming to America

Born “fourscore and seven years ago,” on a farm in a small village in Saxony, Central

SUBMITTED

Johannes G.Thieme sits in his home in Starnberg, Germany. He was one of many German soldiers held in the prisoner of war camp in Jeanerette during World War II.

SEE BACK, PAGE A8

inside Adoration chapels

Family tradition

Taking flight

Faithful Catholic parishioners spend extra time ensuring the adoration chapels live up to their reputation as a place of perpetual worship. One of them is in Jeanerette and another is in New Iberia.

Matt Castille is your quintessential ‘good time’ musician. The St. Martinville native didn’t have to look far for inspiration and/or mentors.

Local model airplane enthusiasts send their flying machines into the air powered mostly by electric engines as gas models get phased out in the popular hobby.

page 5

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people / lifestyles

page 2 / Thursday, February 17, 2011 / The Daily Iberian Profile 2011 / Celebrating Our Community

INDEX ■ Brought here by war A German soldier and a local U.S. servicemen both were at the prisoner of war camp in Jeanerette in WWII. . .Cover story

Up, up and away The Cajun R/C Club’s members take flying model airplanes seriously, some to the extent they go out-of-state. . . . .page 3

Stepping up to help When a physician moved here seven years ago, his family got involved in Scouting and he became a leader. . . . . . . . .page 4

Perpetual adoration Parishioners spend extra time ensuring that adoration chapels live up to the reputation as perpetual worship places. . . .page 5

Cajun healers Teche Area traiteurs practice treating ailments from toothaches to sunburns and say healing requires faith. . . . . .page 6

Special bowlers A league that has been in existence more than 20 years was created for children with special needs. . . . . . . . . . .page 7

Playing fantasy sports Connecting with people is one of the attractions of an industry that has exploded in popularity the past two decades. . . . .page 9 Profile 2011: Celebrating Our Community is a supplemental publication of , P.O. Box 9290, New Iberia, LA 70562.

Publisher . . . . . . . . . . . .Will Chapman Managing Editor . . . . . . . .Jeff Zeringue Advertising Manager . . . . . . .Alan Rini Production Manager . . . .Jerry Sexton Business Manager . . . .Amanda Seneca Circulation Manager . . . . .“J.P.” Poirier

Musical family tradition Castille draws on a rich history of entertainers BY HEATHER MILLER THE DAILY IBERIAN

H

ank Williams Jr. may not have been singing about the Castilles, but the long line of Teche Area family members have lived up to the classic Williams song by keeping alive “a family tradition” — of musicians, that is. Matt Castille is your quintessential Louisiana “good time” musician, playing three to four times per week around St. Martinville, New Iberia and Lafayette at various bars and night life hot spots. The 26-year-old St. Martinville native and resident didn’t have to look far to find inspiration and mentors for his interest in music. On his mother’s side of the family, his great uncle Bobby Bourque has been playing for decades around Acadiana with Bobby and the Rockers. On his father’s side, he has three uncles who helped to jumpstart his knack for singing and guitar. Uncle Jody Castille of Catahoula plays bass for Nik L Beer Band, and Uncle Russell Castille is a founding member of Side Show, which plays various gigs in and around St. Martinville and at Rox in Cypress Bayou Casino. Matt’s key inspiration, however, comes from his great-uncle Philip Laperouse, who played electric guitar and taught Matt much

HEATHER MILLER / THE DAILY IBERIAN

Jon Melancon, left, plays music with Matt Castille recently at The Camp Lounge in New Iberia. him,” Matt Castille said. “I started playing with him when I was 15 years old.” Thanks to the lineage of music-loving folks, Matt Castille can belt out “pretty much whatever local variety the crowd wants to hear” when he plays regularly at Coyote Blues in Lafayette and other places. Russell Castille said he, too, got his start thanks to Laperouse — and his father Leroy Castille,

‘I got most of everything I learned from him (Philip Laperouse). I started playing with him when I was 15 years old.’ Matt Castille Teche Area musician ■ of what he knows and uses today.

“I got most of everything I learned from

who played with Warren Storm and Johnny Allen in his day. Russell Castille has been playing music for more than 30 years, starting Side Show in the 1980s then restarting the band with different members in 2004. As for having generations of musicians to continue entertaining around Acadiana — Russell Castille says “it’s great.” “We’re carrying on the tradition,” he said.

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people / lifestyles

Profile 2011 / Celebrating Our Community

The Daily Iberian / Thursday, February 17, 2011 / page 3

SUBMITTED

Ryan Gonsoulin launches a glider remote controlled plane. The New Iberia man who

SUBMITTED

has participated in the hobby for years has Former national champion Ryan been a national champion in the sport. Gonsoulin practices hovering with his

electric-powered remote-controlled airplane.

The sky’s the limit for them Cajun R/C Club members love to fly models up high BY JUSTIN HALL THE DAILY IBERIAN

F

or the majority of people, flying model airplanes involves the small balsa-wood and rubber band contraptions that fly a couple feet before hitting the ground. Yet, for a dedicated group of airplane enthusiasts with the Cajun R/C Club, their flying machines are made of carbon fiber and powered by electric engines. The New Iberia Cajun R/C Club has been flying model airplanes for almost 30 years after its incorporation in July 1982, basing their operations out of a field located outside of the city limits on Trahan Road. There are around 40 members, former club president Ryan Gonsoulin said, with ages ranging from as young as 6 years old to as old as 70 years old. “It’s just a group of guys

who get together and fly,” Gonsoulin said. Gonsoulin said that he has been involved with remote controlled airplanes since he was about 12 years old, after a childhood friend got him involved in the hobby. Today, Gonsoulin flies two types of airplanes. The first one is a self-propelled 5-foot wingspan glider that Gonsoulin launches out of his hand by holding on to the wing-tip similar to a boomerang. The second, and more expensive model, is an electric powered IMAC scale aerobatics airplane that has a 10-foot wingspan, weighs 40 pounds and can fly at speeds up to 130 mph. That is the airplane that Gonsoulin will take to competitions across the United States. “I am the one who competes the most,” Gonsoulin said. “I have been to

right now.” Gonsoulin said that the hobby is really open to anybody who has an interest in flying model planes. Costs for the planes can range for a couple hundred dollars for the smaller models to more than $3,000 for his competition plane. The R/C club is having a major club event on March 5 before a hosting a regional Academy of Model Aeronautics IMAC competition on April 16 and 17, Gonsoulin said, with flyers coming in from across the South in places such as far west as Arizona and as far north as Illinois. He said that he hopes that the public comes out to watch the best of the best compete. “We encourage the public to come out,” Gonsoulin said. “When they get out there and see what we are about, it’s totally different than what they expect.”

‘It’s just a group of guys who get together and fly.’ Ryan Gonsoulin Cajun R/C Club member ■

‘Electrics are getting big now.’ Phil Oubre Cajun R/C Club president ■ Florida, Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana, Texas, all over for competitions.” One of the other members who goes on the road with Gonsoulin is club president Phil Oubre. Oubre said that he and Gonsoulin are best friends and often follow each other in the models that they like

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Ryan Gonsoulin Jr. holds one of his father’s electric-powered remote-controlled airplanes. to fly. “Ryan was the national champion at flying the real aerobatics,” Oubre said. “I was just a much more minor role player.” Oubre said that he has been flying since he was about 16 years old and has

been involved with the club ever since, seeing the evolution of the sport over time. “Electrics are getting big now,” Oubre said. “We are getting rid of the gas models, though we have a whole stable of them

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people / lifestyles

page 4 / Thursday, February 17, 2011 / The Daily Iberian Profile 2011 / Celebrating Our Community

Scouting extends the family circle Eikel, wife, children get involved in local activities BY HOLLY LELEUX-THUBRON THE DAILY IBERIAN

W

hat started as a way to help 14year-old Louis Eikel make friends when his family first moved to the area seven years ago, Boy Scouting has become a family affair and a demanding volunteer role for dad Dr. Henry Eikel. The Eikels moved to New Iberia in August 2003 from Metairie, where the doctor had a practice. They knew they were ready for the next opportunity, they said, and did not

want to move far from their families here in New Iberia and in Kenner. They wanted to help Louis make friends when he entered the first grade at North Lewis Elementary School so they signed him up to be part of the Cub Scout pack there. Mom Margaret Eikel served as assistant den leader and dad would step in on occasion to help out. “After a while, I started saying it was his turn for the Scouting stuff,” she said with a chuckle. When it came time for the Scout Camporee that

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Dr. Henry Eikel, right, talks with Boy Scout leaders John Aldridge and Paul Broussard.

takes place in New Iberia City Park, the doctor stepped up to help. From there, he began to become more involved with the organization. As an area pediatrician working with the Pediatric Group of Acadiana, it is not uncommon for the doctor’s workload to include an 80 hour per week stint in his practice and making rounds at the hospital, said Margaret Eikel. Despite being so busy he is sometimes “too tired to move,” Eikel also took on the chairmanship of the Evangeline Boy Scouts Attakapas District, which serves Iberia and Vermilion parishes, 18 months ago. He served as chairman of the selection committee searching for the district’s replacement, he said. He became district chairman almost by default when the committee’s selected candidate backed out at the last minute. He was a Scout as a boy, he said, though he said he never made it to Eagle, which his son aspires to do. “It (Scouting) promotes good ideals and teaches the boys how to live well by the Scouting code,” Eikel said. “It gives them something to do, builds self-esteem and self-sufficiency. They get the opportunity to do things they might not otherwise have the opportunity to do. It’s enjoyable for all of us.” The Eikels, including their two daughters Eleanor, 12, and Camille, 9, don’t often have to be dragged to the Scouting events, their parents said. Little Camille wants to be a Boy Scout, too, they said. “She’s right in the middle of it doing everything the boys do,” they said. Eleanor, too, has made friends and enjoys the events. The Eikels said she

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Margaret Eikel, clockwise from left, Louis, 14, Dr. Henry Eikel, Eleanor, 12, and Camille, 9, pose for a quick photo at a recent scouting event. The family has been

in scouting for years with Henry Eikel stepping up to take on leadership roles with the Attakapas District. The district encompasses Iberia and Vermilion parishes.

‘As adults we’ve made a lot of friends and met a lot of people we might not have otherwise. I sometimes get too involved and I’m not great at delegating. I’m ready to step back a bit. But, I’ll still be around.’ Dr. Henry Eikel Boy Scouts of America leader ■ wants to join Venture Scouts, which is a co-ed branch of the Scouts open to 14-21-year-olds. When his term ends at the end of this school year, Eikel said he will step down from the post but won’t stop being involved with the organization.

He’s spent the past few months trying to recruit his replacement, which he’s found in John Caro. Caro, Eikel said, is a former Eagle Scout who has been a volunteer in the Lafayette district for many years. He is the current vice-chairman of the dis-

trict, Eikel said. “As adults we’ve made a lot of friends and met a lot of people we might not have otherwise,” Eikel said. “I sometimes get too involved and I’m not great at delegating. I’m ready to step back a bit. But, I’ll still be around.”

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people / lifestyles

Profile 2011 / Celebrating Our Community

The Daily Iberian / Thursday, February 17, 2011 / page 5

Volunteers help people adore the Lord perpetually Teche Area has adoration chapels in New Iberia, Jeanerette, Loreauville BY HEATHER MILLER THE DAILY IBERIAN

A

long with Mass and other church services attended in Catholic churches across the Teche Area, groups of faithful parishioners spend additional time ensuring that adoration chapels are living up to their reputation as a place of perpetual worship. The Eucharistic Adoration Chapel in Jeanerette was built in 1992 to coincide with the wishes of the Rev. DeLuca, a priest in St. John the Evangelist Parish, who wanted to bring a perpetual adoration chapel to the town. For 18 years, almost 200 people have kept DeLuca’s vision alive by having at least one person praying in the chapel 24 hours a day. St. Peter’s Catholic Church in New Iberia also has a place of perpetual worship in the form of the Monsignor Disch Perpetual Adoration Chapel, which was built under the administration of the Rev. Charles Langlois. “I come to adore the Lord, to be in his presence and return love for love,” said Mary Duplantis, who has been praying in the New Iberia adoration chapel at least one hour per week since it was built. A slew of volunteers give an hour or more each week to prayer in the chapel at St. Peter’s, as “the worship of the Eucharist outside of the Mass is of inestimable value,” according to chapel information on the St. Peter’s Web site. “It is the responsibility of pastors to encourage, also by their personal witness, the practice of Eucharistic adoration and exposition of the Blessed

‘I come to adore the Lord, to be in his presence and return love for love.’ Mary Duplantis Local woman who prays in the adoration chapel ■

‘About the last year or so, we’re getting people from New Iberia.’ Karen Breaux St. Joseph’s Catholic Church chapel coordinator ■ Sacrament in particular, as well as prayer of adoration before Christ present under the Eucharistic species.” Though not perpetual, St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Loreauville is home to an adoration chapel that is aided by 167 faithful volunteers who spend many hours every week. The Rev. John “Buddy” Breaux, pastor at St. Joseph’s, said the volunteers are well-coordinated thanks to their organizer Karen Breaux. Karen Breaux, who has been serving as the chapel coordinator for the past seven years, said St. Joseph’s chapel opened Aug. 19, 1993, as a perpetual adoration chapel when the Rev. Paul Bergeron was pastor. Parishioners Martha Broussard Ramos and Gladys Ransonet also were instrumental in getting the chapel established, she said. In 1997, however, it became difficult to find enough volunteers for overnight hours. So, the chapel hours changed to 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily, the same as are observed today. Lately, though, Breaux said it has not been difficult to get volunteers, called adorers, to the chapel. “About the last year or so, we’re getting people from New Iberia,” Breaux said. “They might come to our church on occasion and call me and say, ‘I saw in the bulletin you got a spot open,’ ” Much of the credit for keeping the adoration chapel open for so many years should go to the adorers, Breaux said. “They are extremely dedicated people and very, very conscientious about spending time with the Lord and making sure the hours are filled,” Breaux said.

HEATHER MILLER / THE DAILY IBERIAN

Kathy Causey, right, is one of many adorers at the perpetual adoration chapel at

St. Peter’s Catholic Church in New Iberia. The other adorer is unnamed.

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people / lifestyles

page 6 / Thursday, February 17, 2011 / The Daily Iberian Profile 2011 / Celebrating Our Community

Cajun healers believe gift is blessing

would treat my dolls,” she said. outh “That’s Louishow I iana is learned known for its and I kept unique culit up.” ture full of She said mysteries and she has tradition. been teachAlthough ing two of some have her daughdeclined ters treatthrough the ing years they prayers, continues to which is fascinate. not someA product of thing easithe region’s ly learned. unique her“Because itage that conall my tinues to captitreatments vate is the are in Cajun healers. French, They are comand they monly known don’t speak as traiteurs. French at According to all, it’s University of hard for Louisiana at them to Lafayette learn.” English proPoirrier fessor Marcia said. “It Gaudet’s artitakes a cle Cultural long time.” Catholicism in Poirrier Cajun-Creole is thankful Louisiana, for what traiteurs are she calls “a JESSICA GOFF / THE DAILY IBERIAN gift from people “who Nolan Galley of Coteau, one of a few practicing traiteurs in God,” she believe their gift of healing this area, says faith is the only way to treat an affliction. said, but in is a blessing recent from God and an integral part of their years she has been troubled by strangers Catholic faith.” at all hours of the night asking for treatTraiteurs in the Teche Area have ment. Sometimes, those who ask for her become harder to find through the years help do not understand the role of a traibut are still present and practicing to teur, which has made her wary of making treat ailments ranging from toothaches, herself too available to strangers, she said. sunburns, warts to even shingles. “What they need to understand is that The most important facet of treatment is I’m not a doctor,” Poirrier said. faith, Iris Poirrier, 87, of New Iberia, said. According to Gaudet’s research, trai“God has to be first in all my treatments teurs traditionally treat non-life-threatbecause if you are not with God you don’t ening afflictions. do anything,” Poirrier said. Nolan Galley of Coteau began learning Poirrier learned the prayers as a child how to be a traiteur when he was a from observing her father, she said, who teenager. He became a pupil of his grandwas one of several traiteurs in her family. father, who was capable of treating sever“When they were treating, I’d go someal conditions. where where I could hear them do it. “He would treat for sick cattle, snake Then I’d pray with some of my dolls and I bites, sun burns, warts, shingles ... I can’t BY JESSICA GOFF THE DAILY IBERIAN

S

‘What they need to understand is that I’m not a doctor.’ Iris Poirrier New Iberia resident and traiteur ■ even name them all,” Galley said. “He died when I was 13 or 14. I had started learning, but I didn’t learn a lot.” About 10 years ago he learned how to treat bleeding, such as those received from surface cuts and other minor injuries, from a man from Erath. A few year ago he learned how to treat sunstroke, he said. Like Poirrier, Galley said faith is the only way a traiteur can treat an affliction. “If you believe in it, it will work. If you don’t, don’t even go there,” he said.

He said distance between a traiteur and a “patient” usually does not affect the treating process, unless, water divides the two. “As long as there is not a body of water between the treater and the patient, as I call it, it will work,” Galley said. Along with a few other rules, Galley said, the traiteur also must know the full name of person he or she is treating. He said he learned all his treating prayers in French, but said there is no language barriers to the prayers. Galley said that much like the Cajun French language, traiteurs are on the decline because younger generations do not want to learn the tradition. “The young people, when you try to teach them French, they are too big shot for that,” he said. “But later on in life they say ‘Golly, Grandma tried to teach me French, but I didn’t want to learn it.’ And then it’s too late and Grandama’s gone. It’s like the traiteurs. The traiteurs and going fast. It’s just not being practiced anymore.”

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people / lifestyles

Profile 2011 / Celebrating Our Community

The Daily Iberian / Thursday, February 17, 2011 / page 7

‘They’re kids’ have special time bowling BY JESSICA GOFF THE DAILY IBERIAN

V

erna’s Very Special Bowling League has been knocking down pins in New Iberia for more than 20 years ... and has no plans to quit. The group was started by Verna and Joe Bourque, both avid bowlers, to involve special needs children in the sport. Verna Bourque died six years ago and her husband, along with group of parents and caregivers, has kept the league going. For 36 weeks a year, more than 70 bowlers ranging from ages 15 to 80 meet every Saturday at Bayou Pins in New Iberia. League officers Jerry and Betty LaSalle discovered the club 13 years ago

Special Olympics, many league’s bowlers are also athletes in the organization, Betty LaSalle said. “One of the unique things about Verna’s Very Special Bowling League is when we go to the bowling tournaments, area or statewide, we wipe everybody else out. And the reason why is because we bowl so often,” Jerry LaSalle said. He said the league’s officers and volunteers are focusing this SUBMITTED spring on raising money Coach Betty LaSalle, left, poses with bowlers, from left, for new bowling shirts. Richard Preston, Octavia Guidry and Stacey Sickle at 2009 Special needs and or awards banquet of Verna’s Very Special Bowling League. physical disabilities are no obstacle for these bowlers, and saw it was a social and lar bowling league does,” he he said. One of league athletic outlet for their said. “We kept going with it members is blind and can daughter Stacy Sickle. and we’ve actually grown. still bowl a 109 average. Jerry and Betty LaSalle We have even evolved into a “These kids just live for affectionately call league social network also.” the bowling,” he said. bowlers “they’re kids.” Though the league is not “When they can’t bowl “We bowl just like a regu- affiliated with the Acadiana their weekend is shot.”

Gang activity is welcome by 105 Da Movement in Franklin BY PATRICK FLANAGAN THE DAILY IBERIAN

“It’s a great way for the kids to socialize too,” Betty LaSalle added. Joe Bourque said he never expected the league to grow as much as it has through the years. He now serves as the club’s president. Caregivers Mike and Nancy Broussard became involved with Verna’s Very Special Bowling League 15 years ago, Nancy Broussard said. Their client Octavia Guidry, 58, was already part of the league. Nancy Broussard said above anything, each Saturday serves as a social gathering and a place for “the kids” to make friends. “It is wonderful, they all get along with each other so well,” she said. “They are all happy to see one another. And you just know that they really appreciate

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RANKLIN — In their younger years, many of the members of 105 Da Movement found themselves in trouble with the law. Now, older, and with a new identity, the social club’s members have refocused their lives toward creating positive community vibes throughout the city of Franklin and St. Mary Parish. The group was formed Aug. 31, when Lamont Benjamin, the club’s president, moved back home to Franklin after living in New York City for 15 years. “I moved back, saw old friends, created a new bond with them and decid-

SUBMITTED

SEE GANG , PAGE 9

Members of the 105 Da Movement are trying to do good for the community as an example to younger generations.

it. They will actually come to you and say ‘I really appreciate this.’ ” Knights of Columbus member John Manes learned about the league a little over a year ago from the LaSalles, who invited him to attend one the tournaments. He has been involved in coordinating events ever since, he said. Manes encourages all to attend the group’s weekend meets. He said spectators won’t be disappointed, he said. “I knew I would find it interesting, but it was way more interesting than I could imagine,” Manes said. “Anybody and everyone should come see this at least once in their life. There is no athlete with as much intensity as these people on Saturday morning.”

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people / lifestyles

page 8 / Thursday, February 17, 2011 / The Daily Iberian Profile 2011 / Celebrating Our Community

BACK: Comrades taken prisoners in Russia, ‘not much better’ than being killed FROM PAGE 1

Germany, near Dresden, Thieme lived a carefree life until after his high school graduation when he was drafted by the Wehrmacht, the equivalent of the U.S. Army, and sent to Russia in 1941, where he was wounded in battle. Following his convalescence, he volunteered for the AfrikaKorps, where the tremendous offensive of the British Army had been launched in Egypt’s Western Desert at El Alamein. “I did so primarily because I preferred this theater of war to the Russian front, where fighting was much fiercer. This turned out to be a very lucky strike on my part because after a mere three months of fighting in Tunisia, the campaign in North Africa ended with the surrender of the Afrika-Korps and for me, this spelled the end of the war and the beginning of a more agreeable part of the war — namely in America,� said Thieme. In spite of being stripped of his LEE BALL / THE DAILY IBERIAN German medal of honor — equivalent to SUBMITTED A wooden beer stein and a carving of this day by American guard Everett the U.S. Purple Heart — at his time of A standard German Army photo of Johannes a girl were made by German prisoners Connell. Connell’s military photos and capture and held in captivity for almost of war in Jeanerette and cherished to medals are in the background. three years in the Jeanerette POW Camp, Thieme taken during World War II. Thieme said he bears no ill feelings to Americans. In fact, he considers himself ing under the existing climatic conditions. mately 1,500 German prisoners and their captain sarcastically held out the prospect that we could stay in this country, but only work details in area sugar cane fields. lucky in comparison to many of his forIt turned out to be just as hot as in North six-foot underground,� said Thieme. “The prisoners were always pleasant mer comrades. Africa, only much sultrier,� he said. Overall, Thieme said the prisoners were and never gave any trouble or tired to “Had I not volunteered for Africa, I “But we could at least experience fair treated well and he has recollection of would have been ordered back to Russia treatment, enjoy palatable meals and can- escape. I guess there was nowhere that mostly happy times at the Jeanerette camp. to my former division, so as to be teen articles, such as cigarettes and other they could escape to. They knew they “I shall never forget Christmas of 1943 would eventually return home, they just doomed in Stalingrad, where all my formuch-coveted goods, and last but not or 1944. As we returned from work in the mer comrades were either killed or taken least, we were allowed some leisure time.� didn’t know when,� said Connell. sugar cane fields, our camp loudspeaker “I still remember the bulletin board prisoner by the Russians, which was not Italy to Jeanerette sounded the German Christmas carol, that was posted on the grounds displaymuch better.� As Connell examines an intricately ‘Silent Night, Holy Night.’ This was ing the front pages of some of the newsHis lengthy stay in the United States hand-carved wooden stein and a small extremely touching for us, as this carol papers which gave the progress of the began in Norfolk, Va. He and his comwooden plaque made by the German had an extraordinary emotional effect on war. Some of the prisoners did speak rades soon disembarked by railroad and prisoners during their stay at the POW every German soul, especially since we some English so we would give them an traveled through the southeastern U.S. to camp, memories begin to surface for the did not know at the time that this melody update on the war.� Camp Polk in Louisiana, then on to the New Iberia resident. had long since conquered the whole In the midst of the tents used to house POW camp on the site of the USDA/LSU On June 10, 1943, he was sworn into the the prisoners, there was a small Military world,� he said. Cattle Experimental Station in Jeanerette. U.S. Army at 18. After completing trainThieme clearly remembers one ugly PX store, Connell said. Thieme said he and his fellow POWs experience that resulted when one of the “We would buy cigarettes and give to were dumbfounded by the almost cordial ing, he was deployed to Casablanca, the prisoners in exchange for their hand- POWs continually failed to complete his reception they received at their new home. North Africa and later sent to the fightdaily tasks, but that does not mar his recmade items. They were very resourceful “I can fully corroborate the reports car- ing lines above Naples and Anzio Beachhead, Italy. He had served with ollection of the largely happy times at and talented. When they would find any ried by American newspapers, which Company C, 3rd Division 30th Infantry the POW camp. wood or metal in the fields, they would spoke of the great respect which we Regiment for 14 months as a rifleman. “We were brought before the camp comkeep it to make different crafts,� he said. ‘Germans’ were welcomed. ‘These solConnell received several war medals, mander and he bellowed — ‘What do you “I will never know if we (Connell and diers are not defeated’ — so read one of including the Expert Combat Badge and think? I could shoot you right over there Thieme) ever crossed paths. We were the commentaries,� said Thieme. the European African Middle Eastern (pointing to a group of trees). I don’t give a always told not to get too friendly with But with the warm welcome, came a the prisoners or develop any friendship.� damn for your Geneva Convention.’ This tremendous amount of hard work for the Theater Campaign Ribbon Victory shocked us of course, but after another prisoners. They were toiled in sugar cane Medal. After being diagnosed with battle night in the stockade without a mosquito fields in Iberia Parish and the surround- fatigue, Connell said, he was sent back to Memories In 1946, Thieme said the German prisnet, we found it more advisable to do our ing areas as a means of replenishing the the states and placed in the Guard oners were taken to Camp Plauche, a Detachment 1880th Service Command duty rather than suffer another night man power that had become virtually POW camp in the outskirts of New Unit, where he would be assigned as a under these circumstances,� he said. non-existent due to the war. Orleans, where they remained for three prison guard. Instead of going home when the war “We worked for Mr. Duhe and Mr. months. It was only then German prison- ended and the POW camp was closed, Originally from Cranston Providence, Thibodeaux — if I remember the names ers began to think of repatriation. R.I., Connell, was one of the 15 guards correctly — work which we were not SEE ENDING , PAGE A10 “This hope was in vain. A U.S. Army accustomed to and we found very exhaust- responsible for overseeing the approxi-

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people / lifestyles

Profile 2011 / Celebrating Our Community

The Daily Iberian / Thursday, February 17, 2011 / page 9

Connecting people though fantasy sports BY JUSTIN HALL THE DAILY IBERIAN

I

n the world of professional sports, there are only a handful of men and women rich enough to own their own teams and interact with high-priced athletes. Yet for millions of Americans, they can accomplish a similar effect for only the cost of hours in front of a computer and dedicated watching of games on television. This is the world of fantasy sports, an industry that has exploded with the rise of the Internet over the past two decades, allowing armchair quarterbacks and gym class heroes the chance to imagine they are playing with the big boys. One such player from New Iberia is John Norris, a 23-year-old graduate of New Iberia Senior High and Louisiana State University who is studying law at Loyola University of New Orleans Law School. Norris said this past football season he managed two teams, which he named “Tony Dungy’s Book Club” on both ESPN.com and Yahoo.com. “I’ve played it for about eight years,” Norris said. “I like it because it makes the other games beyond the ones you care about as fans more exciting. It makes the games more interactive.” According to the Fantasy Sports Trade Association, the largest trade organization for companies hosting fantasy sports in the United States and Canada, fantasy sports are not just for youth. Older players participate as well. The FSTA Web site said that more than 30 million people in the two countries

play fantasy sports, with the mean age of 41 years old. New Iberia lawyer Michael Moity is one of those players who continues to play even after being married and having a full-time job. Moity, who plays with his team, The Bruisers, on ESPN.com, said that he has played fantasy football for the past five years after being introduced to the game by his friend, Adam Lambert, who lives in New Orleans. He said part of the fun in addition to the sports is the camaraderie that comes with making friends in far away places. “We have people all over, including some in Tennessee,” Moity said. “It’s fun to talk to other players and trash talk them. It’s a real social time.” Lambert’s brother Eric lives in Pigeon Forge, Tenn., and said he has become close friends with Moity, even though the two men have only met in person a couple times. Eric Lambert said he sees online fantasy sports as a fun hobby that helps connect both sports fans and people with other similar interests “Fantasy football is a sport that lends itself to the digital revolution,” Eric Lambert, who plays with a team called the Levee Board Banditos, said. “It’s kind of like Facebook and sports mixed together.’ Eric Lambert said that because of fantasy sports, he and Moity have been able to develop a nice friendship, texting messages or phone calls back and forth even though they live far apart. “It’s not as much about football as it is about social interactions,” Eric Lambert said.

GANG: ‘Trying to change our image’ FROM PAGE 7

ed to start an organization to help out our community,” Lamont said. Since forming the group, the 36-year-old Lamont said the club’s 16 members have been involved in several positive movements, including cleaning up litter in the streets, holding voter registration drives and even helping a family in Glencoe who lost their home to fire. Another club member and Franklin native Derrick Kelly, 35, said

when the group learned about the family in Glencoe, they decided to help as much as possible by gathering up enough money to provide them with furniture and as many necessities as possible to replace things lost during the fire. Kelly said the group is focused on being involved in positive endeavors that benefit others. Some of those endeavors, Kelly said, have included a heater drive to help elderly St. Mary Parish residents have

heaters during the cold winter months, as well as holding a bone marrow drive for Yvonne Johnson, who struggles with the life-threatening disease. “A lot of us in the group have been involved with the law in our lives and got caught up in jail,” he said. “Now, we’re trying to change our image and do things for the community and show kids the right way to go with their lives. “We’re just trying to clean it up and do good.”

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Local lawyer Michael Moity sits in front of the home screen of his ESPN.com fantasy football team while at his New Iberia

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people / lifestyles

page 10 / Thursday, February 17, 2011 / The Daily Iberian Profile 2011 / Celebrating Our Community

K9 part of the family BY PATRICK FLANAGAN THE DAILY IBERIAN

S

T. MARTINVILLE — Most people return home from work each day, free from their co-workers. But for Brandy Sickey, a St. Martin Sheriff ’s Office deputy, that is not the case. Each day, when the Breaux Bridge native returns to her family in Youngsville, she is accompanied by her partner, Argo, who is a 3-year-old Belgian Malinois, a variety of shepherd dog. “He comes home with me and my kids play with him,” Sickey said. “They love him, if something happened to him they would freak out.” Not all police dogs are trained to be friendly, Sickey said. People should

never approach and try to pet a police dog without first requesting permission from the officer handling the animal, since police K9’s are trained in one of two policing techniques. “Some are not civil, they are trained to be only handler friendly,” she said. “But mine’s civil. You can go and pet him, but if I would give the command, he will bite.” Sickey said at home, she lives with eight K9’s, as well as her husband, Lyndon Sickey, who also is a law enforcement officer for the Lafayette Parish Sheriff ’s Office, and their two children, Sadie, 3, and Elizabeth, 8. “We bring Argo everywhere with us,” she said. “He even sleeps in the hotel with us on vacations.” Working for the Sheriff ’s

Office, Sickey and Argo have had their share of excitement, one time nabbing a felon on the run. “The guy hid under a trailer up in the insulation,” Sickey said. “I sent Argo in and he pulled the guy out. He’s trained to alert if someone is hiding in a building. He lets me know.” Argo is young and has several years ahead of him, as the average career for a police K9 is about 12 to 13 years, Sickey said. But the length of the K9’s career depends on the dog. St. Martin Sheriff ’s Office Spokeswoman Maj. Ginny Higgins said Sickey and Argo recently completed a rigorous training program that focused on the dog’s obedience, building and area search abilities, courage, recall and criminal apprehension.

ENDING: Girlfriend awaited his return FROM PAGE 8

Thieme said the Germans prisoners were taken to Liverpool, England, then to a POW camp near Sedbergh, Yorkshire, to restore damage caused by Germany during the war. “This was the final phase of my POW existence, captivity without any detention,” said Thieme.

Happy Ending

Thieme’s five-year odyssey came to a happy end, though. The bells of freedom rang for Thieme on June 26, 1947, when his fiancée welcomed him home with a hug and thousands of kisses, he said. He married his beloved “Elisabeth” in September 1947. Thieme said they had communicated regularly through the reliable POW mail with love letters, censored by the Germans and Americans. “After a very harmo-

SUBMITTED

Johannes Thieme and his fiancée Elisabeth during the war. They married when Thieme returned. nious marriage, Elisabeth died five months before we could otherwise have celebrated our diamond wedding — 60 years of happiness,” Thieme said. Unlike Thieme, Connell never experienced captivity, but he never returned to reside permanently to his Rhode Island home state. A Cajun girl, Daisy Boutte, captured his heart and they

were married. They couple will celebrate their 66th anniversary on March 31. Thieme’s son Christian J. Thieme traveled to Jeanerette recently on behalf of his father to better understand his father’s war experiences. “Part of the burden perhaps of many of his generation was the fact that they came home with so many traumatic experiences, to which afterwards nobody would listen,” Christian Thieme said in an e-mail. “At least for me, it had taken tens of years to start listening to him telling such stories. That is why it was such a great moment when I eventually came to Jeanerette, not only for my father but also myself. It was a challenge for him to do these two interviews, but each and every detail he wrote — via e-mail through me — is a real part of his history.”

During the courage portion of the training, Higgins said it is a requirement for the dog to be hit with a stick while he is holding onto an object with his mouth. “I don’t think I could stand to watch my dog get hit like that,” Higgins told Sickey. Yet, Sickey said the reason for that kind of training is to test the dog’s courage, which is paramount in the heat of a chase or encounter with a criminal. “If he would have let go, that would’ve meant he had no courage,” she said. But that was not the case for Argo, along with his owner / partner, are now certified by the National Police Canine Association after receiving a 100 percent score in all categories of the competition.

PATRICK FLANAGAN / THE DAILY IBERIAN

Brandy Sickey and her K9 partner Argo demonstrate how the dog searches vehicles for contraband.

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