[StBernard] Scalise replaces medals

Westley Annis westley at da-parish.com
Wed Apr 14 08:55:51 EDT 2010

Scalise replaces medals

By Debbie Glover
St. Tammany News
It's been a long five years for Marilyn Dufrene, but the happy memories she
had restored thanks to the efforts of Congressman Steve Scalise has helped
bring closure to the Katrina survivor that now calls Covington home.

Two months before Hurricane Katrina destroyed her and husband Richard's
Chalmette home, her father, World War II Pacific veteran Charles Demerest,
had passed away.

Then Katrina hit and the couple lost everything. Her first grandchild was
born to her son Craig in October. Then, in January 2006, her mother Lucille
passed away in Lafayette where her nursing home had evacuated.

In the space of a few months, she'd lost her home and both parents. The
worst part was she no longer had pictures, not even a baby picture of her
son. They did not take their pictures when they evacuated and her photos and
mementos, including her father's scrapbook of his military service and his
medals, were all destroyed.

Last year, she called Scalise's office to inquire about getting replacements
for her father's medals. During the town hall meeting in Mandeville, she
received her father's medals from Scalise, framed and with honor.

Her father had served in the Pacific and had received six awards for service
in the U. S. Army, including the Good Conduct Medal, the Asiatic-Pacific
Campaign Medal, the World War II Victory Medal, Philippine Liberation Medal,
sharpshooter badge and the American Campaign Medal.

"He was always a gentleman, never spoke ill of anyone," Dufrene said. She
said that he never talked about the war, but if she asked, he would answer
questions. He served from 1943-46 in Japan and the Philippines.

She said he did not see combat that she knows about; he drove a Jeep and a
supply truck. "Of course, looking back, I wished I had asked more
questions," she said.

Demerest worked in a warehouse after the war for S.A. Kress Company and then
Loubat's restaurant supply company. Her mother had retired from Woolworth's.
Dufrene said that her parents worked hard all their lives and then retired.

After Katrina, they tried to salvage what they could. "The smell was awful,"
she said. "It was crazy the stuff that survived. My Lenox figurines and my
husband's shot glass collection were fine. But paper - the mold was awful.
The roof was still intact on the house and wind damage was nothing. It was
the water, which filled the house, and the oil from the refinery tank that
leaked. What the water didn't get, the oil did. You can replacement
everything else, furniture, clothes-but not pictures."

She and her husband Richard, a retired banker, now live in Covington.
Retired herself, she worked at Michoud most of her life. After Katrina, she
worked at the after care at St. Peter's Catholic School and then the Clerk
of Court's office.

Her son Craig and his wife Anna live in Madisonville with their son Landyn,
now 4 1/2 years old.

Someday Landyn's great-grandfather's medals may be his, but until then,
Marilyn is happy to have her father's medals and the memories they bring to

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