Honoring our Veterans / Hommage à nos Vétérans

As we pause to remember the men and women who have served in the Canadian or United States military, this gallery presents the names and photographs of veterans with roots in Great Lakes French-Canadian, Métis, and/or Native American/First Nations communities. This gallery is but a fraction of the thousands of our family members whose served during times of peace and war to keep our countries safe and strong.

Click on any image to enlarge and to begin a slide show. See the end of the gallery for more information on some of the veterans. Thank you to everyone who supplied photographs and memories of their family members and their own service. If you have an image you would like to add, please contact the editor of this journal through the contact page.

In addition to the veterans above, we honor:
Francis Beauregard, Civil War
David Bourdeau, WWI
Earl Evoe, WWI
Rob Evoe, US Navy
Larry Evoe, National Guard
Dennis Evoe, National Guard
Jayne A. Hebert, US Army
Lawrence Hebert, WWI
Albert LaForest, WWI
Anthony Jay LaForest, USAF
Joseph S. LaForest, US Army Reserve, Afghanistan
Joseph R. LaForest, Michigan National Guard
Mark LaForest, US Navy
Ronald Lee LaValley
Robert LaVigne, WWII
Sébastien Malette, Royal 22e Régiment
Ignace Moras, War of 1812, American forces, Prisoner of War at Mackinac Island
Russell Navarre, US Coast Guard
Roy Joseph Navarre, WWII
Colonel Francis Navarre, War of 1812, River Raisin Militia
Robert French Navarre, War of 1812, River Raisin Militia
Ray Peltier, WWII
George Peltier, WWII
Cyprien Racine, Civil War
Lloyd (Rocheleau) Van Slembrouck, WWII

On the Garneau Brothers by Cindy Ziegler-Smith

“The Garneau brothers in the Wall of Honor are related to Cindy Smith and Shelly Garno. They are my Grandmother’s brothers and sons of Clara Marie Giroux (1869-1932) and Theodore Garneau (1855-1926).  These men were born in Cadillac, Michigan but their father and his generation were all from Quebec and Ontario, Canada. Their mother’s family was originally from Percheron, France. Joe Garneau, oldest, served in Russia in the 85th DIV, Polar Bear DIV, Barracks 470 (Camp Custer). He froze his feet, was hospitalized and had problems with them from that time on. Fred Garneau, middle, served in Germany with Co. G, 2nd Depot Battalion, S.C. He was a French interpreter. Ted served in France, Château Thierry and Argonne Forest. He went to look for a lost batallian. He filled his helmet with water…it contained mustard gas. It damaged him for life. He was at Camp Jos. E. Johnson, Detention Camp,Co. 20, Jacksonville, FLA, 32nd Div.”

On the Cottrell Brothers by Steve Bell

“The three Cottrell brothers fought in France. They are from my great-great uncles from the Thumb of Michigan (Caro). Their names are Martin, Frank, and Jack Cottrell. Their father and mother were Joseph Cottrell and and Victoria LaJeunesse of Detroit. Joseph and Victoria were born and died in the Detroit area but their bodies rest at the Sacred Heart Cemetery in Caro, MI where they farmed their whole lives. The family farm in Caro, MI is stilled owned by my relative Francis Cottrell, a living veteran of World War II (Patton’s Army) and Francis also fought in Belgium, Holland and Germany. Francis personally told me about the old French family reunions that took place before my time, when the old ladies turned the air blue speaking French to one another. The Cottrells descend from the Ste. Claire area (Marine City) and their paternal and maternal grandparents were Franco-Americans with connections back to Ste. Anne’s Church in Detroit and Frenchtown (Monroe) on the mother’s side.”

On Gilbere (Gilbert) and Theodore Laplante by Carrol A. Laplante (daughter of Gilbert)

“Gilbert (Gilbere) Laplante my father was born in 1914 in Blind River, Ontario. He along with an older sister Eugenia and younger brother Ted were sent with their crippled mother to live with her sister in Detroit, when they were quite young.  Their aunt then put them in the Mount Pleasant Indian School. When the two boys were old enough they returned to Blind River to enlist in the Canadian army. As adults all three and their families lived out their lives in Michigan.

Gilbere was a Canadian Armored Tank Driver and his brother Theodore was a Canadian Paratrooper, both took part in D-Day 1944, Gilbere landing on Juno Beach with fellow Canadians.  Gilbere’s 1st picture was taken when he first enlisted, 2nd picture was after the war, when he came to Traverse City, then Muskegon, MI. Theodore’s picture was taken in the plane as he prepared his equipment, to jump on D Day.  Being French Canadian they were of mixed blood with Chippewa gr-grandfather Solomon Causley and gr-grandmother Jane Riel (aunt of Metis Leader Louis Riel) We truly had fur traders & trappers who did business with & married into the native population. God Bless you for doing this and Thank You. Ms. Carrol Ann LaPlante ”

On William Alvin Belongea(Lefebvre dit Boulanger) 1890 – 1918 by his great-niece Juli Pionk:

“William was the first child of Clement and Libby (Fountain) Belongea. According to his WWI Draft Registration William was born in Epoufette, MI. on July 7, 1890. William served as Sergeant with the 125th Infantry Regiment, 32nd Infantry Division and died of his wounds October 8, 1918. He is buried in Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery Plot A Row 23 Grave 10 in Romagne, France. In July of 1918 William was cited for heroism when he crawled a great distance under heavy machine gun barrage to aid a fellow soldier. He was posthumously awarded the Distinguished Service Cross. A memorial stone was placed in Newton Township Cemetery by the United States Government. The other soldier sitting in the above picture is believed to be Joseph Goudreau who is a cousin to William as well as his employer prior to their military service.”

On Thomas Bushey, by his grandniece Denise Klarer:

“My grandmother’s brother, Thomas Lozon Bushey. He was nineteen years old when he joined the Essex Highlanders. He signed his attestation papers on September 16, 1916. Although the Highlanders wore kilts, he was of French Canadian descent! He parents were Isadore Bushey (Boucher) and Philomena Brabaw (Brabant).”

On Medolph Paquette, by his grandson Jim Paquette:

He was from Nadeau, Michigan–born September 22, 1897 of parents Athanase (Metis) & Marie Lorraine who had emigrated to Menominee County from Quebec Province in the 1880’s. Medolph served in the U.S. Army during WWI as a Private in Battery A 67th Field Artillery, enlisting in May of 1918. Because of his horsemanship skills and farming background, he was assigned to take care of the unit’s horses. He said that he loved his duty with the horses! He was a proud Metis warrior–honoring his heritage, his family, and his ancestors. Grandpa Med passed away on November 12, 1967 while getting our hunting camp ready for deer season. He was one of the greatest human beings I have ever known.”

On Robert Paquette, by his son Jim Paquette:

“Immediately upon graduating from high school, he enlisted in the United States Navy at the age of 17 to serve his country as a Navy Hospital Corpsman. He once said, “When I was going off to war, I decided that I was going to save lives, not take them.”

After several weeks of training with the Marines Corp at Camp Pendleton, he was assigned to the Amphibious Assault ship APA199 USS Magoffin where he served out the remainder of the war in the Asiatic/Pacific Campaign. On Easter Sunday morning, April 1, 1945, he “hit the beach” at Okinawa as a Hospital Corpsman 1st/class with the Marine 2nd Division when the combined U.S Marine, Army and Naval forces invaded the island. While saving the lives of wounded Marines and Okinawa civilians on the battlefield, he narrowly survived enemy sniper fire.

On the 7th day of this terrible and heroic battle, his ship was ordered to “weigh anchor” and leave for San Francisco to load up with more Marines and equipment. Escorting the Magoffin from Okinawa was the famed battle cruiser USS Indianapolis, which had been hit and damaged during the kamikaze attacks.

At the conclusion of the war, he remained with his ship “Maggie” transporting thousands of troops back stateside from the Pacific theater. During that time, he continued his service to his country by assisting returning battle weary Marines, including the famed ferocious warriors “Carlson’s Raiders.”

In May of 1946, after traveling over 90,000 miles, he was Honorably Discharged from the Navy as a Pharmacists Mate 2nd/class. That same month, he returned home to his family in Kingsford, vowing never ever again to travel far from the nearest trout stream. He made good on that vow.

Throughout his life, he spoke very little of his war-time experiences, once saying, “It was something that thousands of us just did, and that was just the way it was.” In his later years, he opened up more often, at times crying when he thought back, with his unselfish and caring heart, about the young wounded Marines he worked so hard to save so many years ago on the island of Okinawa.

My Father, like his Father, was very proud of his French-Canadian/Metis heritage, and he served his country during WWII to honor his family and his ancestors. My Father paddled away in his canoe from Negaunee, Michigan to join his ancestors and to once again be with his mom and dad on January 19 of this year, just shy of his 88th birthday. Someday, we will join them and laugh loudly together as we all tell old stories of this life…a life for which will be eternally thankful for.”

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